Mumbai rains: Water falling from Eastern Freeway could spark off a fire

Updated: Jun 22, 2015, 11:11 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav and Sachin Unhalekar

A number of fuel pipelines, operated by electric valves, run through the Port Trust road below the Freeway; water falls on these valves from the Freeway, increasing the chances of a short circuit, which could spark off a pipeline fire

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) constructed the Eastern Freeway to facilitate rapid travel between south Mumbai and the eastern suburbs. But the water that is discharged from the Freeway directly falls on the fuel pipelines which dot the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) road below, posing a major fire hazard to the entire area.

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The fuel pipelines — carrying diesel, petrol and kerosene — bear the brunt of the water discharge from the Freeway, and are controlled by electric valves. MbPT authorities have been forced to use plastic sheets to cover these valves, where a short circuit could easily be sparked off due to the water seepage.

MMRDA has also started closing the water outlets along the Freeway at the points where the water falls on the road below. More than 2-3 km of the Freeway carriageway passes over the MbPT road below.

Mumbai rains, Eastern Freeway, fuel pipelines
Will these plastic coverings prevent the fuel pipelines from catching fire? Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

“Parallel to the MbPT road, there are fuel pipelines which are passing below. Rainwater falls directly on the road below, directly causing problems to not only to motorists and bikers who use this road, but also on the Motor Operate Valves (MOVs) which work on electricity. There are chances of a short circuit because of the same, but to be on the safer side, we have used plastic covers to protect the valves from rains,” a technician who operates the valves told mid-day, requesting anonymity.

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“There is no doubt that the project has been helpful for motorists as it saves a lot of time. But at the same time, MMRDA should have done proper planning so that the rainwater does not fall on the road below directly. The water from the Freeway should be carried using a pipe to the storm water drains,” said the technician.

At present there is no water pipe that carries rainwater falling on the Freeway directly to the storm water drains below. There are only openings at intervals of 10-15 feet along the Freeway, which discharge water directly onto the road below.

Another MbPT technician also told mid-day that MMRDA has been told to close the openings on the Freeway where the water falls on the valves and the entity has closed a few openings directly above the MOVs.

“The work of closing the opening from where the water was directly falling on the MOV has been closed, and all precautionary measures will be taken,” said MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kawatkar.

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