The monsoons are here in full swing, and there’s water everywhere — not so much the intermittent showers from the heavens above, but the filthy, muck-laden flood waters that they leave behind. And residents of the Jay Bharat Society in Khar are awaiting the deluge with particular apprehension and dread. Locals from this society, which flanks the railway tracks, have been complaining of severe water logging problems for years. Despite repeated complaints registered with the BMC and railways, they claim that the floods return unfailingly, every monsoon. The source of the problem, claim residents, is the choked culvert that passes under the railway tracks.
Surindra Khubchandi, resident of the society, said, “This year as well, we met officials from the BMC as well as the railways, but the drain which passes under the tracks between Khar and Bandra has still not been cleaned. The Chamda nullah located nearby too is yet to be desilted,” said. “If there is a heavy downpour for even half an hour, the society is submerged under four feet of water. There are people who live in the ground floor and they are greatly inconvenienced,” he added.
Rainwater flows down from the slopes of Pali Hill to Linking Road and then on to the residential society, from where it is meant to pass into the drains under the tracks, which should lead it to the waters of the Mahim creek. But because the drains aren’t desilted and cleaned, the water collects and stagnates, causing floods. Another resident said, “It becomes difficult living here during rains — while some residents go live with their relatives elsewhere, others stay back and keep removing the water. The furniture goes bad every year.”
The civic body pays the railway authorities to clean up the drains every year. This year, Rs 2.9 crore was allotted to the WR and the CR authorities, of which the CR, which has 135 culverts passing under the tracks, claimed Rs 1.7 crore. The civic body claims that till date, they have finished 96 per cent of desilting in the western suburbs, 98 per cent in the eastern suburbs and 91 per cent in the city area. 4 lakh of the promised 4.5-lakh cubic metres of silt have been removed from the storm water drains.
“It has been the same problem every year, wherein little work was done by the Railway authorities. But this time, we made rounds to inspect the cleaning of the storm water drains — we are hopeful that there would be less water logging as a result. It’s not only the tracks that are affected, but also the adjoining areas,” said L S Vhatkar, chief engineer (Storm Water Drain). He added that the civic body began the work of cleaning the drains in April, but maintained that some amount of residual flotsam is inevitable.
BMC’s Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale said, “It is always the BMC that is blamed for water logging, but there are other agencies which also have a role to play. Despite repeated reminders to the Railways and the MMRDA, they do not carry out the desilting work, and services are affected due to this. The Mithi River and the drains under the tracks have been desilted this year and I think there should be less water logging at spots where chronic water logging occurs.”
Nitin David, PRO, Railways, said, “We’ve removed 6,000 cubic metres of silt from the culverts flowing below the tracks and we usually finish the work before monsoons, so as not to face any criticism. If required, we would carry out desilting during monsoons also. We’d keep reviewing the conditions of the drains this monsoon.”
Clean and clear
BMC has to maintain 200.25 km of major nullahs, 129.26 km of minor nullahs, 151.13 km of arch/box drains, 1,986.98 km of roadside open drains, 565.41 km of closed pipe drains and 30,208 water entrances.