Mumbai rains: BMC's shoddy work exposed by a single day of rainfall

Jul 03, 2014, 06:35 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

They made hundreds of promises and spent crores of public money, but the civic body has maintained an unblemished record of being absolutely clueless as to how to keep the city monsoon-ready

If one were to read statements by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in which they claim to be prepared for the monsoon, one would think the civic body is trying to become a parody of itself. They seem to be succeeding exceedingly well at the task.

Also read: Metro gets its first taste of the Mumbai rains

Despite completing the work of de-silting and cleaning nullahs and drains, the roads were waterlogged within a couple of hours of heavy showers yesterday
Despite completing the work of de-silting and cleaning nullahs and drains, the roads were waterlogged within a couple of hours of heavy showers yesterday

Yet again (we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve said this), the BMC’s shoddy work has been exposed by just a single day of rainfall. mid-day took a rain check on every aspect that the BMC had promised Mumbaikars they would take care of, and found the civic body had failed on every count – be it roads, trees, or nullahs.

Fire brigade officials clearing the branches of the tree that was collapsed at Kemps’ Corner yesterday. Pics/Nimesh Dave, Bipin Kokate
Fire brigade officials clearing the branches of the tree that was collapsed at Kemps’ Corner yesterday. Pics/Nimesh Dave, Bipin Kokate

Nullahs and drains
If the BMC are to be believed, they have completed 99.39 per cent of the work of de-silting and cleaning nullahs and drains. However, roads were waterlogged within a couple of hours of heavy showers and one could see several places where silt had been piled up and kept beside the nullahs Andheri, Malad, Goregaon, Kurla, Vikhroli being some of the examples.

Also read: Mumbai rains: APMC traders sick of flooding in market

This dirt, naturally, mixed with the overflowing water, forcing citizens to wade through muck, garbage and all kinds of trash on the road. This is apart from the unholy stink it raises and provides a healthy breeding ground for mosquitoes and their ilk.

Also read: Mumbai rains: BMC imposes 20 pc water cut on waterlogged city

Neither were the nullahs completely rid of silt – as the BMC had promised they would be by May 31. In fact, despite the rain gods giving the civic body almost a month of extra time, nothing has been done. The BMC spends about Rs 90 crore annually on cleaning the major and minor nullahs, and an additional of R2.5 crore for cleaning the Mithi River.

Also read: Mumbai rains: Here's why one rainy day brought CR to a standstill

The BMC dug up nearly 328 roads around May — barely a month before monsoons usually arrive — and about 400 roads were resurfaced. Yet, the first showers caused potholes on these ‘newly made’ roads. Nearly 1,047 potholes were reported since June, till yesterday, and the rains have just arrived.

Photos: Heavy rains lash Mumbai, water-logging in many parts

The civic body had planned to let the ward office take care of the potholes, and had set out a total budget of Rs 28 crore for repair work. So, when the work is given to wards, there is a fear of a lack of monitoring of the progress of the work. Till yesterday 747 potholes had been repaired. The suburbs also noticed a cave-in on Wednesday evening at Tukaram Mhatre Road near Dahisar Bridge where the road now has an eight-feet-wide hole.

Nearly 33 trees in the city collapsed yesterday, probably tired of the civic body’s apathy and lack of concern for citizens. The collapses happened in a span of three hours of rainfall — 14 in the Western suburbs, and 11 in the Eastern parts and 8 in island city. The BMC didn’t trim their branches properly.

The weather forecast for today is occasional showers in the city and suburbs, with a couple of heavy spells. High tides are predicted at 3.12 am of 3.48 metres, and at 4.02 pm of 3.94 metres.

Inputs: Pooja Kalwar and Neha Tripathi

Two wall collapses
One woman and two children sustained minor injuries near Bail Bazaar at Kurla, when a wall collapsed.

In another incident, a small portion of the airport boundary wall collapsed in the afternoon near Jari
Mari. However, no one was injured. Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) then put up temporary fencing, along with additional lights, to prevent intrusion. Safety of the area will be handled by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). No effect was seen on operation due to the incident.

The other side
An official from the central agency, who was responsible for cleaning up nullahs, blamed it on ward offices. “We have completed de-silting work of almost all the nullahs, but there are chances that some silt or garbage is still present. This is cleaned on a regular basis, but if people near slums still throw waste in gutters, a clean-up is required again. Waterlogging, however, could be because of minor nullahs, which are taken care of by the ward office. We look after major drains.”

S V R Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, had a different view of the whole situation. He believed that the city did well to survive the downpour, shifting the blame to other government bodies. “Most of the flooded areas were either under the railways or belonged to MMRDA or PWD. However, we will be writing to them and coordinating about the state of waterlogging, as the citizens are our priority. But, things were very much under control – the first downpour is usually high and today, it was more than 110 mm in just three hours. Pothole repair is done on a daily basis, and all complaints will be taken care of soon.”


Sanket Sawant, production house executive
I had to reach for a meeting in Tilak Nagar at 12:00 pm. I went from my home in Thane to Kurla. My train stopped between Vikhroli and Ghatkopar due to the heavy rains and the track was filled with water. After waiting a lot, I somehow got down and walked on the tracks and reached Ghatkopar station. After 35 minutes, I finally managed to get an auto and reached my destination, which took me another hour.

Nikhil Achrekar, works at a real estate firm
I usually travel by auto but today, I had to walk through waterlogged streets, as my auto driver refused to move after reaching WEH Metro. It took me more than 30 minutes to reach, when usually I reach in 10 minutes.

Mayur Parmar, works in an insurance firm
I had boarded a train from GTB station around 11:00 am. The train started moving, but stopped between GTB and Chunabhatti for 45 minutes. When I realised I was getting late, I got down from the train and started walking on the tracks till I reached Kurla. There were no buses available from there to Chakala, and I finally reached office around 2.30 pm.

Rainfall received
Island city: 27.7 mm
Eastern suburbs: 111.9 mm
Western suburbs: 107.6 mm

1,047: Potholes reported till yesterday

747: Potholes filled till yesterday

316: Number of major and minor nullahs in the city

153 mm: Total rainfall recorded at Santacruz

99.4 pc: The percentage of nullah cleaning work that the BMC claimed to have completed before the monsoon hit

Rs 90 crore: Amount BMC spent on cleaning nullahs in the city this year

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