Mumbai: Central Railway has a plan to solve Mithi menace

Updated: Sep 06, 2019, 07:36 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

The solution involves widening the river where it runs along the tracks, deepening it and removing encroachments

Waterlogged tracks between Sion and Kurla and surrounding areas after the water level of Mithi river rose. Pic/ PTI
Waterlogged tracks between Sion and Kurla and surrounding areas after the water level of Mithi river rose. Pic/ PTI

Fourteen years after it brought the city to its knees during the July 26, 2005, deluge, the Mithi continues to pose problems to planners despite their best efforts. Following Wednesday's flooding that left the city gridlocked, railway officials on Thursday said they have a solution to the problem and are willing to submit it to the BMC. The river's level rose to the highest ever recorded — 4.2 metres — around 3 pm on Wednesday.

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Yesterday, water receded at a rate of about half an inch per hour, and it took us eight hours to restore the CR line that runs parallel to the river," a senior official told mid-day. "Central Railway divisional engineers have worked on a solution to widen the Mithi and improve the drainage. We will submit the plan to the BMC."

The official said the stretch of the river running parallel to the CR tracks has to be widened and deepened, while also improving the floodplains and removing encroachments that block the free flow of water. The plan also gives a kilometre-wise break-up of the improvements required.

The official said the Mumbai division took up the issue with the chief secretary on Thursday morning during a co-ordination meeting, but was told to take it up with the BMC independently.

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Mithi NadiRailway tracks run over the Mithi river in some parts of the city

WR affected, too

On Wednesday, the area between Sion and Chunabhatti was flooded, stopping both the main Central and Harbour lines. On the Western Railway, the stretch between Mahim and Bandra was flooded.

"On WR, there was heavy backflow of water from the Dharavi nallah (a subsidiary of Mithi) to the railway area, which resulted in severe flooding of tracks at Mahim and Matunga Road stations. Backflow from the Dharavi nullah has not happened for several years. The matter was highlighted to BMC for
further remedial action," said a WR official.

Years of failures

The Mithi's average width is 5m in the north near Vihar lake, and was widened to 25m in the middle and up to 70m in the south after the
2005 deluge.

The Mithi River Development and Protection Authority was formed in 2006 to co-ordinate between MMRDA and BMC for restoration of Mithi and to mitigate flooding.

Sources said that both MMRDA and BMC had spent over Rs 1,200 crore on various projects for Mithi's restoration and cleaning. But all of this was only for beautification and development.

Activist Jitendra Gupta said Wednesday's fiasco needed accountability, investigation and answers from those at the top. "Earlier once in four to five years, residents staying in low-lying areas used to face flooding. Now it happens every year. On Wednesday, the rains stopped at 4 pm, but it took eight to nine more hours for the water to recede," said Gupta.

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