Is Mumbai staring at worse flooding this monsoon?

Updated: Apr 03, 2020, 07:40 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Lockdown has put a stop to rlys' urgent pre-monsoon work; CR, WR say situation under control

A waterlogged railway track at Sion station after heavy rain on August 4 last year. Pic/ Shadab Khan
A waterlogged railway track at Sion station after heavy rain on August 4 last year. Pic/ Shadab Khan

The complete lockdown in the city has upset annual monsoon preparations for both rail lines and there are fears that it may lead to issues of water-logging and disruption of services if not tackled on war-footing now. While Central Railway is usually bogged down with flooding issues and related measures due to its extensive network, Western Railway manages to do well, except for a few pockets.

As per the annual schedule, preparatory work for monsoon starts in February-March with major pre-monsoon preparations like desilting of drains, trimming of tree branches and consolidating drains. They continue till early June after which a joint review is done by the railways and BMC.

However, this year, there could likely be a delay of implementing the work on the ground as the number of labourers has dwindled and much of the work has stopped.

To keep suburban trains going without interruption, the rail lines and surrounding areas require intensive cleaning of drains and culverts that run beneath the tracks, removal of muck, surveying hilly areas for loose boulders, upgrade and consolidate provisions to drain out excess water from low-lying rail areas.

Railway workers clear dirt and overgrowth near tracks on Wednesday. PIC/SAYYED SAMEER ABEDIRailway workers clear dirt and overgrowth near tracks on Wednesday. Pic/ Sayed Sameer Abedi

Just before the Coronavirus crisis assumed big proportions, CR in January had formed a 15-member flood rescue team that was to be trained by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and posted at vulnerable locations. This was because last monsoon, there were multiple instances of railway tracks being flooded with the railways requiring to call in the NDRF.

In 2019, there were numerous instances of railway tracks being flooded and falling of boulders with the most serious incident taking place on July 27, 2019, when over 1,000 passengers were stranded inside the Mahalaxmi Express near Badlapur owing to water-logging on the tracks.

Other issues that hampered trains last year were overflowing of Mithi river near Sion station and overflowing of a drain near Vikhroli and Kanjurmarg stations. On WR, flooding in the extended suburbs of Nalasopara and Vasai proved to be problematic for rail services.

Railway officials, however, said there was no cause for worry and monsoon work though delayed would not be affected. A senior official said work had already begun along the stretches that require special efforts as a part of essential services. When mid-day visited the area near Vidyavihar-Kurla stretch on CR, an area known for water-logging, there were workers de-weeding and clearing debris around the tracks there. On WR, too, railway officials said work had begun since January and they would be completed before the monsoon.

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