A year after Vasai and Virar were hit by flooding, residents and political leaders of the two areas claim little has been done by the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC) to tackle the upcoming monsoon, despite the fact that an expert committee had submitted a report last year on steps to be taken. The VVCMC, on the other hand, said it has already taken up the cleaning of nullahs and natural water outlets.
Incessant rain for three days led to a flood-like situation in Vasai and Virar in July 2018. Residents had claimed that illegal constructions and half-constructed bridges in the creek area and natural water outlets led to massive waterlogging. Water gushed in during high tide and there were no outlets for it to escape, leading to excessive waterlogging. The VVCMC had formed a special committee including experts from IIT and NEERI.
In the last week, authorities claimed to have cleaned the Sopara creek, Naigaon creek and Rajiwali nullah, the blockage of which was a major reason behind flooding in the area last monsoon.
“This year seems no different than last year. Aside from a few attempts to clean the big nullahs, not much has happened. Illegal constructions and blockages still exist,” said Mayank Digraskar, a resident of Naigaon.
The Shiv Sena, the opposition party in the VVCMC, has demanded that the corporation make its flood mitigation plan public.
“The corporation needs to clarify what all work it has done to prepare for the upcoming monsoon. They claim that all work would be done by May 30, but what all has happened and can they assure us that there will be no flooding this year?” said the Sena’s Milind Chavhan.
A senior VVCMC official said work has begun on a number of projects. “There were multiple long and short-term plans outlined by the experts from NEERI. Some were plans that we had to undertake with other agencies. Work has begun on most of them. The tasks that were meant to be done by the municipal corporation alone have almost finished. We have cleaned the nullahs that had not been cleaned for years before. This year, we are ready for the monsoon,” said the official.
“The creeks in Vasai, Nalasopara and Naigaon have been already cleaned and desilted. We have also done deep cleaning of the inland nullahs in Vasai and Virar that help channel rainwater to the sea,” added the senior official.
In July 2018, water levels remained high in both areas for almost a week, with electricity supply being disrupted for over 40 hours and water supply being affected for four days. Residents had to wade through waist-deep water to leave their houses.
“The sound of water dripping is scary, as it reminds me of rain and how water collected around the ground floor of my house. We had to be cooped up on the fifth floor for the entire week during the flood,” said Vasai resident Shyama Shekhar.
While the collector’s fund was used to disburse remuneration to most people who were hit by the flood, residents claimed it was “too little, too late”.
“The water damaged all our goods and furniture. The money we received is not even good enough to buy one piece of furniture,” said Shekhar.