Mumbai Rains: Even before disaster, Mayor fixes blame

May 17, 2018, 07:29 IST | Laxman Singh and Ranjeet Jadhav

After inspecting pre-monsoon drain cleaning work, Sena man and Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar is clear about two things: there will be flooding in many parts of the city, and that either the MMRDA or MMRC will be responsible, even though he can't tel

Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar inspects a Metro III site at Santacruz on Wednesday
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar inspects a Metro III site at Santacruz on Wednesday

Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar may rank as the first citizen in Mumbai, but he has failed the test of basic civic awareness. During an inspection of nullahs in Santacruz. Yesterday, it became clear that the Mayor had failed to do his homework when he blamed the MMRDA for clogging the drainage lines with debris from the Metro III work. Bizarrely, even after spending close to half an hour at two of the Metro sites, he didn't seem to realise that it was the MMRC that was building Metro III, and not MMRDA.

Mayor Mahadeshwar is not wrong about the flood risk posed by Metro III. mid-day had last year highlighted how the construction of the underground Metro corridor — stretching from Colaba to Bandra to Seepz — had choked the stormwater drains and damaged many of the sewers below. However, the Mayor was entirely wrong in blaming the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for obstructing the drains, since the agency has nothing to do with the Metro III project at all.

Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar visited the Metro III site at Teacher's Colony in Santacruz East yesterday
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar visited the Metro III site at Teacher's Colony in Santacruz East yesterday

On Wednesday, Mahadeshwar was going around the city, taking stock of the ongoing nullah cleaning work. He stopped for a while at the Metro site in Santacruz, where he said, "Because of the MMRDA's Metro work near Teacher's Colony, there are chances of waterlogging if there is heavy rainfall, as they have damaged our sewerage lines, as well as stormwater drainage. The monsoon runoff flowing towards Mithi river via Vakola nullah will end up stagnating in Santacruz east and Khar east."

Our reporters were puzzled upon hearing this, as it is well known that Metro III is being constructed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), an entirely different organisation (see box). mid-day then questioned the Mayor on his remarks, and found that it was no slip of tongue — he really had no idea about who was in charge of the biggest Metro project in the city.

Here's what he said:

What are your observations from your visit to the Metro sites?
We are not against the infrastructure development that is going on in the city, but the fact is that the BMC is the main planning authority of the city, so the Metro authorities should have taken our permission. But they did not take permission, or even take us into confidence before starting the work. The ongoing Metro work has damaged BMC's stormwater drains and sewerage lines. Because of this, there will be flooding if there is a rainfall of more than 300 mm. The state government will be responsible for the same."

At which locations did you observe the damage to drainage lines?
BMC utilities were damaged because of the Metro work near Teachers Colony in Santacruz East and near Santacruz highway too, which could result in water logging at Santacruz and Khar East.

Are you aware that Metro III is being constructed by MMRC, and not MMRDA?
So what if it is not MMRDA, the project comes under the purview of the state government.

Did you find any BMC utilities in damaged condition along the Dahisar-Andheri East and Dahisar-D N Nagar Metro corridors (actually implemented by MMRDA)?
We will visit the other locations in coming days.

Two
No. of Metro III sites the Mayor visited

20mins
Approx time he spent at the sites

Also Read: Mumbai rains: Will BMC manage to repair 522 roads before monsoon?

Not the same
While the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) is the master planner of the city and handles several projects, the MMRC (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation) was formed specifically for the R23,000-crore mega project of Metro III.

Desilting on schedule
The Mayor said that pre-monsoon desilting of nullahs is going well and is expected to end on time, before the monsoons kick in. "However, at many locations the on Metro work has damaged drainage lines, and no measures were taken to restore them." He also pointed out slow and unsatisfactory nullah cleaning at Hans Bhogara Marg nullah, along Vakola river, and Maharashtra Nagar.

Different entities
While the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) is the master planner of the city and handles several projects, the MMRC (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation) was formed solely to implement the R23,000-crore Metro III. The MMRDA is, however, in charge of Metro IIA (Dahisar-DN Nagar) and VII (Andheri East-Dahisar east).

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