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Doppler: Govt may put Mumbai's interest before that of builders

Despite fierce opposition from the builder lobby and even some MLAs, who fear it will affect construction projects in the city, the second Doppler radar may come up within Mumbai itself

Despite opposition from the powerful builder lobby, guardian minister Jayant Patil and MLAs, some of whom have interests in real estate themselves, Mumbai may get its second Doppler radar within the city itself.

The first Doppler radar was installed atop Archana Society in Colaba. Doppler radars can locate precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate its type (rain, snow, hail etc). Representational pic
The first Doppler radar was installed atop Archana Society in Colaba. Doppler radars can locate precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate its type (rain, snow, hail etc). Representational pic

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has zeroed in on two locations within the city as possible sites for the second Doppler radar: the BMC’s Bhandup Reservoir and the Veravali Reservoir in Andheri.

In its letter to the meteorological department in New Delhi, the Mumbai regional office sought opinion on the two sites in Bhandup and Andheri (East), which are 81.4 metres and 95.1 metres high respectively. Sources said the office has also sought opinion on a hilltop site in Mandwa, Raigad district which is synonymous with the cult film Agneepath.

The decision on the three sites was taken at a meeting with chief secretary Jageshwar Saharia, and while the first two sites were shortlisted from 14 other elevated reservoir locations proposed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Raigad option and one at Thane were explored following a push from developers, officials and Rural Development Minister and Mumbai Guardian Minister Jayant Patil.

“We are certain that the ideal location for the radar is in a 40-km radius of Central Mumbai. The best locations appear to be the reservoirs, which are located at a height,” said a senior government official.

Money first
Sources in the government said the developer lobby has been pushing hard to ensure that the second radar comes up outside Mumbai as they fear that it will affect construction and redevelopment projects in the city.

Several MLAs, who are also builders, have been pushing to move the Doppler out of the city and claim that the IMD has been holding back No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for over 100 construction projects above 90 metres or 24 floors in height because of the radar.

At one point, the builder lobby also proposed to pay for a second Doppler at their choice of location. “The builders are desperate to dump the Doppler in the sea somewhere, or on the coastline off Mumbai,” said a government official.

Members of the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI-CREDAI) met Saharia and demanded that interim relief be provided to projects that have been affected by the first Doppler radar so far.

One of the concessions builders want is relief for ‘shadow structures’ — those that are surrounded by tall buildings and do not, therefore, affect the radar’s reach.

Safety measure
The first Doppler radar was installed atop Archana Society in Colaba following the July 2005 deluge. The radar has a range of 500 km and produces velocity data about objects that are far off. It can locate precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate its type (rain, snow, hail etc.)

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