All it took for Dadar, Parel and Elphinstone to get waterlogged were a few stones and some muck. The Cleveland Bunder pumping station at Worli, which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) inaugurated on Wednesday at the hands of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, failed to do its job as one of its three gates couldn’t shut due to stones and muck blocking its movement.

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The open tidal gate let in seawater, which ultimately caused flooding in Dadar, Elphinstone and Parel areas
The open tidal gate let in seawater, which ultimately caused flooding in Dadar, Elphinstone and Parel areas

This allowed seawater to flow back into the city and flood it. After the inauguration of the city’s newest pumping station on Wednesday, BMC had claimed that the unit would work to pump out waterlogged water from Parel, Dadar and Elphinstone areas.

The stones and muck blocking the tidal gate were removed at 5.30 pm using a crane
The stones and muck blocking the tidal gate were removed at 5.30 pm using a crane

However, as rains lashed the city yesterday, one of the three tidal control gates of the pumping station remained open as stones and muck were preventing it from closing completely. This tidal control gate is supposed to shut completely to prevent the backflow of seawater into the city during high tides.

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With the gate open, sea water rushed into the city, flooding its streets in Parel and Elphinstone, which are already low-lying areas. Laxman Vhatkar, chief engineer, storm water drains, said, “Around 10.30 am on Friday, a few stones and muck had blocked the frame of one of the three tidal control gates, because of which one of the gates did not close.

There was a little space left, through which seawater entered. As it was not possible to remove the stones and muck during high tide, we removed them using a crane at 5.30 pm. The stones and muck were pushed into the sea.” Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had also visited the BMC headquarters at around 3.45 pm and visited the disaster management control room.

An engineer from the storm water drains department claimed they used pumps to drain out water from the flooded streets. “There are seven pumps at the pumping station; we used six pumps to remove the water, which was then released back into the sea. The water entering from the gap left by the tidal gate was also pumped out and released back into the sea,” he said.

Each pump can suck and release 6,000 litres of water back into the sea and the Cleveland Bunder unit at Worli Koliwada has seven such pumps. The facility is part of BMC’s original plan to build nine pumping stations in the city.

However, only two of them were initially built and operated at Irla and Haji Ali before the two new stations at Cleveland Bunder and Lovegrove in Chinchpokli were inaugurated last week. Construction on the two new units began in 2011 and they were supposed to be ready by October 2013, but the project was delayed. The civic body had even fined the contractors for the delay.