Saturday, June 20, 2015

Opinion: Why 2000 Crore Was Not Enough To Stop Mumbai From Shutting Down During Monsoon Rains?

By Sahil Amte in Mumbai
Just two days after they were inaugurated amid much hype, the two new pumping stations in Mumbai have failed to serve the purpose they were intended to. As Mumbai reels under severe water-logging following incessant, heavy rains, the new pumping stations have failed to provide relief from waterlogging in Central Mumbai.

Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated the stations two days back. The municipal corporation of the city has spent over Rs 200 crores on these pumping stations. The Cleveland Bunder storm pumping station cost the BMC Rs 102 crores and the Love Grove pumping station was built with Rs 116 crore.
Situated in Worli, these stations were supposed to ease waterlogging in areas like Worli, Prabhadevi, Mahalaxmi, Dadar etc - areas which are reported to me among the worst-affected in today's waterlogging.

BMC had claimed that the new stations have the capacity to drain over 6,000 litres of water per second.

Following the 2005 deluge, BMC had announced the Brihanmumbai Stormwater Drainage (Brimstowad) project. Eight pumping stations were to be constructed as a part of the project. However, the project progressed at snail's pace which resulted the costs to escalate.

Nine years after the project announced, only four of the eight pumping stations are ready function. Two are being constructed and the remaining two still exists just on paper. Meanwhile, thanks to the inordinate delays, the project cost has gone up to Rs 4,000 crore from the initially planned Rs 1,200 crore.

The problem with the pumping stations is just the tip of the iceberg of BMC's inefficiency. The civic body made promises dime a dozen about improving the city's infrastructure but nothing materialised. From nullah widening and cleaning, to storm water drain works and pothole free roads, the BMC's many promises fell flat on their faces with the very first rains in Mumbai. It also revealed how ill-prepared the city is when it comes to rains. The irony is, the city is no stranger to deluges such as today's.

Since last year’s monsoon, the civic body claimed to have spent more than Rs 2,000 crore on nullah cleaning, on asphalting and concretization of roads, repairing potholes and improving the century old under-ground drain networks.

Every year, BMC spends around Rs 1,000 crore on monsoon works but it brings very little relief to the Mumbaikars. BMC, the richest civic body in Asia with its budget of Rs 33,514 crore, is ruled by the Sena with BJP as a partner for the past two decades.
However, within hours of the rains hitting the city and life coming to a standstill, the civic body chose to blame the heavy rains for the miseries.

“The city has received very heavy rainfall from 8am on Thursday to 8 am on Friday. It received around 170 mm rainfall during these hours. Out of 170 mm rainfall, 132 mm rainfall was recorded from 6 pm on Thursday to 6 am on Friday. The heavy rainfall collided with the high of 3.97 mt at night which resulted in water-logging in most parts of the city as the water could not recede into the sea,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner of BMC and in-charge of disaster management.

Civic officials also blamed that century old storm water drain system in the city for the water-logging. “The carrying capacity of the existing British-era drains is 25mm per hour. Ideal capacity of the drains should be 75 mm. All the drains capacity will be increased to 50 mm only after the completion of Brimstowad project which is likely to take couple of years more. So, the existing drain system does not help much if there is a heavy rainfall,” said another civic official.

The official added that most parts in the city such as Dadar, Matunga, Parel, Andheri received 214 mm, 253 mm, 252 mm and 248 mm rainfall respectively. “If the high tide above 4.5 mt and the rainfall above 65 mm are reported in a day, the water logging is likely to be caused in the city due to its demography,” he said adding that there are around 262 de-watering pumps in place across the city.

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