The BMC plans to build artificial holding ponds to store overflowing water from Powai and Vihar lakes, which had on Wednesday, for the third time this monsoon, led the Mithi river to cross its danger mark.
An overflowing Mithi not only cripples the western, central and harbour lines, but also submerges areas like Kurla, Sion, Chunabhatti and Matunga. On Wednesday, around 1,300 people had to be evacuated from Kranti Nagar and Bamandaya Pada, located on the banks of the river.
Civic officials said that by diverting the excess water from the lakes to artificial holding ponds built either at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) or Aarey, the river’s water level may be controlled.
“A consultant will be appointed to conduct a feasibility test on the project. The idea is to divert overflowing water of these lakes to artificial ponds. The stored water can be released slowly into the Mithi once the rainwater subsides,” said Praveen Darade, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects).
“This will also help the flow of fresh water into Mithi throughout the year since we can release the stored water at regular intervals. The consultant will identify the place and determine how many ponds will be required to store such huge quantity of water,” he added.
While Vihar lake is located at SGNP, the Powai lake is situated near IIT-Bombay. Moreover, when Tulsi lake — also located in SGNP — overflows, the excess water enters the Vihar lake, said a BMC official.
This monsoon, Tulsi, Vihar and Powai lakes had overflown in July. “Since Vihar and Powai lakes are already full, whenever it rains, they start overflowing into the Mithi, causing a rise in its water level,” said the official.
On Wednesday, the water level in Mithi started rising after 10 am and crossed the danger mark around 1 pm. This caused havoc in the city as receding of rainwater from areas like Sion, Matunga, Kurla and BKC was severely affected. These areas were under water for almost 12 hours.
Water from Gandhi Market, Kings Circle and Matunga receded by Wednesday night, B A Road was closed for traffic. “Though the rain stopped by Wednesday evening, but Gandhi Market and King’s Circle were submerged in about three feet water. The police and BMC were ferrying residents in boats. The housing societies in these areas were flooded till late night,” said Jayesh Shah, a resident of Matunga.
Vijay Singhal, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburbs), said: “The city received such heavy rain for the fourth time this season. While I have asked our engineers to find out the reasons behind this unusual flooding and delay in receding of water, it seems that the quick rise in Mithi’s level due to overflowing Powai, Vihar and Tulsi lakes is the main reason.”
“Since the city has received heavy rain, water percolation has decreased. While our drains are designed to handle 50 mm of rain per hour, the city has received about 350 mm rainfall in one day,” he added.
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