Even as a devastating landslide in Pune on Wednesday killed nearly 35 people and one man was killed in a landslide in Chembur yesterday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is still to take action to prevent loss of lives in the city.

The BMC has identified the above number of areas at risk in each ward
The BMC has identified the above number of areas at risk in each ward

The civic body has identified around 263 areas across its 24 wards that are prone to landslides. But, the civic body says, it’s not their responsibility to evacuate these areas. 

Nearly 1.7 lakh people - mostly slum dwellers - reside in the hilly areas where such incidents occur. The civic body says it has sent notices to these residents, asking them to vacate their homes as soon as possible.

Yet, the city’s disaster management cell, which is headed by Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte, and comprises members from MHADA, MMRDA, Railways etc, hasn’t done anything to ensure the safety of citizens. 

Devendra Amberkar, Congress’s leader of opposition in BMC, has written a letter to the disaster management cell, asking them to do something about the issue.

He said, “Authorities need to take care of this problem. If the chairman is not acting on it, who will? There is a huge population which resides in those areas and they need to be safe. They need to be given temporary shelter.”

'Not our land'
Nearly 145 areas in Bhandup and Nahur are at risk of landslides. The second in the list is Ghatkopar, with 30 areas. According to Kunte, most of the hilly land belongs either to MHADA or to the Collector.

Kunte explained that, on these hilly areas where the shanties have come up over the years, a retaining wall is allowed to be built only when the height of the hill is 9 metres. The wall acts as a barrier between the mud rolling downhill and the homes.

While saying that retaining walls had been built by MHADA at most hills, Kunte said it was also the responsibility of MHADA or the Collector, whoever the land belonged to, to demolish these illegal slums and get people to leave their houses. “We have already issued notices to the people. We will provide machinery for the demolition, but the order has to come from MHADA or the Collector.

They also have to take a decision on providing alternate accommodation to the affected residents,” he added. MHADA Chairman Yusuf Abrahani was unavailable for contact, despite several attempts.