Mumbai rains: Clogged drains due to BKC flyover work may cause flooding

Jun 07, 2018, 07:09 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

Railways writes to MMRDA that obstructions in the drains will lead to disruption of services and inconvenience commuters; MMRDA denies wrong-doing +5:05 AM 07-Jun-18

The plinths for the connector bridge have been constructed right where the footpath and drain used to be on LBS Marg, along the west side of Sion station. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The plinths for the connector bridge have been constructed right where the footpath and drain used to be on LBS Marg, along the west side of Sion station. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Sion railway station, already quick to flood, could now possibly be at even more danger of getting submerged. Sources from the Central Railway have alleged that the drain near the low-lying station was tampered with during the ongoing construction of the connector bridge between the Eastern Express Highway and Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). However, MMRDA, the agency in charge, has refuted the claim.

A Central Railway (CR) official said that the new bridge was being constructed close to Sion station in the north end, and the plinths of have been installed on either side of the railway lines. "On the west side, the plinths stand right on the spot where the footpath and the drain once stood. If it rains very heavily, this could lead to flooding in the area faster. MMRDA's top officials should inspect the work that the contractor has done," he said.

Sion station is already low-lying, and may be at increased risk of flooding if the bridge's plinths have indeed blocked the drains. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Sion station is already low-lying, and may be at increased risk of flooding if the bridge's plinths have indeed blocked the drains. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Railways worried
The railways have written to the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) about the ongoing work along LBS Marg near Sion station, said the railway official. He added, "Sion is already a low-lying area that is prone to flooding. Such obstructions in the drains lead to further disruption of services and passenger inconvenience. We will have to monitor the situation carefully."

This is yet another instance where, far from reducing Mumbai's waterlogging woes, the authorities seem to be putting the city at even more risk of flooding. mid-day had last year reported how the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) had put the city at risk by clogging and damaging the drainage lines while drilling the underground Metro III corridor.

MMRDA sent this image to show that the storm water drain had been diverted
MMRDA sent this image to show that the storm water drain had been diverted

Local activist SH Gupta said he was had pointed out the problem with the Sion connector bridge a few weeks ago on Twitter, and had even tagged CR and MMRDA. "But since MMRDA is not active on Twitter, they seem to be missing out on a lot of real-time issues. In the age of technology, a big organisation like this cannot stay behind."

No problem, says MMRDA
On the other hand, MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar rubbished the allegations, stating, "MMRDA has been very careful while planning and executing all such infrastructure projects in Mumbai. As far as the BKC connector is concerned, all relevant drains were properly diverted; none of them have been blocked."

An MMRDA engineer, who conducted a joint inspection of the site with the railways, said that the drains had been diverted properly. "We can send you photographs that all the storm water drains have been properly diverted and cleaned up. There might be problems with the discharge of water into Mithi river due to encroachments around, but there will be no problem due to the BKC connector work," he told mid-day.

Activist Gupta was sceptical about MMRDA's claims. "Whatever claims are being made will be tested as soon as the rains start. Let us wait and see," he said. The 1.6-km connector will start at G-Block in BKC, go across Mithi river, LBS Marg and the CR tracks, before it meets the Eastern Express Highway. It will cut travel time from 30 minutes to less than 10 minutes, and is expected to be completed by December 2018.

Also read: Mithi River choked due to Metro III: Will Mumbai face massive floods in 2018?

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