While the standing committee of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has demanded that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) pay the money for de-silting the 4-km stretch of the Mithi River passing through its jurisdiction in the Bandra-Kurla Complex, the metropolitan authority has made it clear that it won’t shell out any amount for the work.
Metropolitan Commissio-ner UPS Madan said, “During our talks with the BMC administration, it gave in-principle approval to do de-silting for the river’s course passing through MMRDA’s jurisdiction. As the civic body, it is BMC’s duty to look after maintenance work. We won’t be paying any amount to the BMC.”
During the tenure of ex-metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana, many meetings were held between MMRDA and BMC over the issue. During this time, the BMC had said it would take over the responsibility of carrying out de-silting work in the stretch of the river in the development body’s jurisdiction.
But speaking to MiD DAY, BMC house leader Yashodar Phanse said, “The MMRDA has generated a lot of money by selling land in BKC which is very close to the Mithi. So it should be the one furnishing the funds needed by the BMC for de-silting.”
The de-silting issue was discussed in the standing committee meeting on Saturday where the committee opposed executing the de-silting work free of cost.
A senior MMRDA official said, “When it comes to collecting the property tax, the BMC does not say the MMRDA should collect the tax in the BKC area as it was developed by MMRDA. Now that it has it comes to de-silting, BMC doesn’t want to do any work. As the civic body, it is the duty of the corporation to maintain and clean the nullahs. So it should also do the de-silting of the Mithi river.”
Till date, MMRDA has removed more than 28 lakh cubic tonnes of silt from the river. It has spent Rs 224 crore on removing the silt, deepening the river, constructing a retaining wall and blasting rocks to increase the river’s depth and water carrying capacity. The project cost Rs 300 crore.
Division of labour
After the 2005 Mumbai deluge claimed lives and destroyed property, it emerged that two of the major contributing factors to the floods were illegal construction work along the course of the Mithi and the great volumes of silt deposited in its bed. Acting on this knowledge, the Maharashtra government formed the Mithi river development plan. Under the plan, the 17.5-km-long course of the river was divided into two parts, marking a 6-km stretch near BKC the responsibility for whose upkeep was allotted to the MMRDA. The rest was to be developed and maintained by the city’s civic body. MMRDA’s part: In the first phase of Mithi development between March 2006 and June 2007, eight lakh cubic cm of debris was removed. In the second phase, 19 lakh cubic cm of debris has been removed, and the de-silting of the river in Vakola is in progress.