Mumbai rains: BMC raps stormwater drain department over flooding

Jun 15, 2017, 12:35 IST | Laxman Singh

Facing citizens' ire over waterlogging just after two showers, civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta issues show-cause notices to SWD chief engineer for delay in starting pumping stations

Delay in operating the Britannia pumping station had led to flooding in Hindmata. FILE PIC
Delay in operating the Britannia pumping station had led to flooding in Hindmata. FILE PIC

Monsoon has barely begun and brickbats are already raining on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation over waterlogging across Mumbai in the last two showers. And the civic body, in turn, has come down heavily on the stormwater drain (SWD) department.

Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has pulled up the head of the department for failing to start the Gazder Bandh pumping station in Khar Danda, and also for delay in operating the Britannia pumping station in Dockyard Road, which led to flooding in Hindmata on Monday evening.

Also read: No fish on Mumbai's flooded roads; BMC unearths lie behind photo

One chance too many
Mehta ordered issuance of two show-cause notices against SWD chief engineer Laxman Vhatkar to explain the delay. Accordingly, newly appointed additional municipal commissioner Vijay Singhal, in-charge of SWD department, issued notices to Vhatkar yesterday, seeking his reply in a week.

An official from the civic chief's office said, "Chief engineer Vhatkar had promised to start the Gazder Bandh pumping station by May-end. In a meeting on June 3, Mehta had directed that it be made operational on June 9. Vhatkar had given repeated assurances to follow through but failed to."

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"Also, after Monday's rains, Hindmata was flooded once again. Inquiry revealed that the SWD department had delayed in starting three pumps in Britannia pumping stations, which led to the waterlogging. Following these two issues, an upset Mehta took action," the official added.

Down the drain
The Gazder Bandh pumping station is for reducing flooding in Khar (West), Santacruz, Juhu and parts of Bandra. mid-day had reported on June 4 about Mehta's order to start the pumping station by June 9.

Vhatkar has been chief engineer of SWD department for more than six years now, much higher than the stipulated period of three years for government officials. He also holds the all-important post of director (engineering) in the BMC since the last three years.

Also read - Mumbai rains: Mayhem on first night on monsoon as tree-falls threaten citizens

While Vhatkar refused to comment, a senior SWD department official said, "Operation of Gazder Bandh pumping station has been delayed due to permission to cut mangroves being granted late. We had sought it from the Union environment ministry, and it was granted in the first week of June."

Also read - Mumbai Rains: BMC sets up pumping station in Khar to tackle water-logging from Bandra to Juhu

"Britannia pumping station, on the other hand, was started on time. There was heavy rain, and hence, water was accumulated in Hindmata. However, it receded fast. Also, city drains can't handle rain beyond 50 mm; their capacity itself is 25 mm," he added.

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