Busy Vigilance Dept has no time to check desilting sites
If the nullahs overflow this monsoon, blame the BMC’s Vigilance Department instead of Storm Water Drains. The department is responsible for checking desilting of major nullahs but personnel are burdened with the road scam enquiry, and so have not been able to make more than one visit to the sites as against the usual 2-3. But the BMC maintains that even if the officials are not visiting the site, some are posted on weigh bridges — a platform where the silt is weighed — and dumping sites. These are the two spots where irregularities happen and the BMC is focusing on those.
The visits are to check if work is being done as per the terms of their contract. Pic/Sameer Markande
Nullah-desilting is in the news before the rains. While the mayor is ready to blame the municipal commissioner for any flooding that happens in monsoon, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray visited some desilting sites on Thursday and said the administration is alert. Thackeray said, “Last year, the silt that was removed was not dumped properly. But this time, administration is alert. They are taking a lot of precaution. I will not say right now whether I am satisfied or not. It depends on the rainfall. But we will maintain the pressure on the administration.”
The BMC is undertaking desilting of major nullahs as well as minor nullahs in the city. While minor nullahs are being cleaned by concerned ward offices, major ones are being cleaned by contractors. According to norms, the Vigilance Department is supposed to visit the desilting sites at least 2-3 times in the months of April-May. The surprise visits are to check if work is being done as per the terms of their contract. The engineers are supposed to check whether silt is being removed, if yes, how much, how many metres of nullah has been cleaned, etc.
But owing to the road enquiry this year, the department has engaged a number of executive engineers as well as assistant engineers on the job. The enquiry requires digging of trial pits and taking measurements. The department has completed around 90 roads of the 200 so far and aims to do the rest by the beginning of next week. Once the manual work is done, the department will file a detailed report on the findings. Busy with that work, as well as manning the weighbridges and dumping sites, the officials have been unable to visit nullahs.
“Every year, April-May is the peak time of desilting works. Our officials attend to all major nullahs at least 2-3 times. But this year, many of them are busy with the road enquiry. They have only visited the nullahs once,” said an official from the Vigilance Department.
When asked about this, Chief Engineer (vigilance) S O Kori said, “Our people are visiting dumping sites continuously.” When asked why haven’t they done 2-3 surprise visits before monsoon, he said that would be done. The BMC has a deadline of pre-monsoon works, which is May 31.
Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner who has recently taken charge of the SWD department said, “Even if the officials are not visiting the spot, it doesn’t matter. We are manning the weighbridges and dumping sites round the clock because those are crucial. That is where the corruption happens.” Deshmukh is confident that the desilting will be complete by May 31.
Mithi river desilting till date