Mumbai: Shiv Sena snubs BMC's bailout plan for migrants

Party leader says manual cleaning of nullahs can’t ensure a thorough job, only machinery can; warns BMC commissioner that he alone will be held responsible if the initiative falls through

Not everybody is gung-ho about the civic body’s plan to hire despondent migrants from drought-hit regions of the state for desilting of minor nullahs. Shailesh Phanse, Shiv Sena leader and chairman of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee, has raised questions over the success of such manual cleaning of drains.

Also Read: Mumbai: BMC ropes in drought-hit farmers for nullah cleaning

He said machinery alone can ensure that nullahs are thoroughly cleaned and cautioned that the city might get waterlogged during the monsoon.

He warned that in such a scenario, the BMC administration, especially the commissioner, will be solely held responsible for the ensuring floods.

mid-day had yesterday revealed civic wards’ plan to bail out such migrants by recruiting them for desilting of nullahs. The BMC has entrusted ward offices with the work this time to avoid a repeat of the nullah desilting scam of last June, wherein contractors’ shoddy pre-monsoon works left the city flooded.

Read Story: Driven out of homes by drought, migrants find a lifeline in Mumbai

In a letter to the BMC, Phanse wrote, “This year, you (the civic commissioner) have asked ward officers to clean minor nullahs by using manual labourers, thus raising doubts over whether the nullahs will be cleaned in reality or not.”

He warned that if the nullahs are not desilted well, the city might see a repeat of the July 26, 2005, deluge. “You (the commissioner) will be responsible for any untoward incident as the administration hasn’t taken proper steps in the desilting of nullahs,” added the letter.

Phanse clarified with mid-day that he isn’t against manual cleaning of nullahs, but believes that machines can do a better job of it.

Sources said the Shiv Sena is on the fence over the initiative because of fears that the nullahs will not be cleaned in time before the monsoon.

A BMC functionary claimed that the letter is a face-saving tactic.

“The party has sent the letter only to show, during any possible flooding, that it was the BMC’s fault alone and that it should not be blamed for it.”

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