Amid criticism of the Shiv Sena-controlled Mumbai municipality and the state government over the failure to check flooding in Mumbai, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has compounded the woes of the ruling side.
In a report which was submitted to the state legislature on Tuesday, the CAG has raised serious questions over Mumbai’s monsoon preparedness, while passing strictures over delays in flood mitigation works.
While the Chief Minister claimed that the rainwater had receded faster than usual from low-lying belts, the CAG report, tabled on the same day, has red flagged deficiencies in the implementation of the multi-crore BRIMSTOWAD (Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drainage system) – meant to enhance the holding capacity of the SWD and the surface water run off coefficient. While the civic body has claimed that the carrying capacity of the drainage network had been upgraded from 25 mm/hour to 50 mm/hour and the run off coefficient had been enhanced to 0.5, the CAG report has disputed the claim. According to the CAG report, less than 48 per cent of the nullahs – 25 out of 53 – had been upgraded to 50 mm/hour capacity. “Out of 53 nullahs to be upgraded, 25 nullahs were upgraded to 50 mm/hr capacity. Work on 12 others was in progress, four was yet to started, and 12 others foreclosed,” he said. The BMC has spent several thousand crore since 2006 on the project. “There was a delay of six years in updating the BRIMSTOWAD master plan,” it has stated.
It has further pointed out that more than 26 percent work of the widening and deepening of the Mithi river work – 15.84 km out of 21.58 km – had been completed. Similarly, the works of Dahisar river (4.1 km completed out of 4.75 km), Poinsur (4 km out of 7 km), Oshiwara river (three out of eight nullahs) were still pending, it said.
Raising the issue of encroachments and land use along the flood plain zones, the CAG further observed, “There were numerous obstructions in the larger drains due to siphons and other utility services.” Claiming that the system is “heavily silted”, the CAG has also stated, “Floodgates have so far been provided in only three of the 45 outfalls. With tidal control possible at only these three locations, major outfalls discharge much below mean sea level.” Pointing out that flooding had become chronic to Mumbai, it has further observed that the “flat gradients have resulted in drains being affected by tides.”
It also listed poor workmanship and lack of attention to repairs when the drains are punctured by utility service providers and poor structural conditions as other major deficiencies in storm water drain management. While flooding is a chronic and recurrent problem in Mumbai during the monsoon season, “the process of urbanisation, however, has played a major role in aggravating the problem as it has caused significant alterations to hydrology, morphology, habitat and ecology of the area.”
Contending that there were 18497 hutments in 285 landslide-prone areas in Mumbai, the CAG has rapped the Mumbai municipality for lacking a concrete action plan for dealing with the issue. “There have been 100 landslides between 2010 and 2017, including 33 incidents that have taken place between 2015 and 2017.
But despite the repeated occurrences, the Mumbai municipality did not take any concrete action to mitigate the risk of landslides. The efforts made by authorities at various levels were not adequate and complete to address the preparedness for landslides.” While 5210 project affected people have been identified in 19 monsoon related workers, only 118 of them have been partially rehabilitated, while 5092 are yet to be resettled. Out of the 7654 buildings in the city that were aged over 30 years or more, only 1716 have carried out structural audit as mandated. Rapping the state government, the CAG has observed that the state’s annual disaster management plan (DMP) had not been updated since 2016. It has criticised the state for not included the school safety component in the state DMP, and for not identifying stampede, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear disasters as potential disasters.