Andher Nagari : Mumbai

Rain creates havoc in Mumbai
1 Jul, 2007
MUMBAI: Saturday’s rainfall was less than half of what the city received on 26 July, 2005, but the mess the city was in for most of the day led civic activists to point out that the BMC has not learnt any lesson from the past.

Gaurang Vora, a member of the F-North Ward Citizens’ Federation, said the civic body has not done anything despite repeated requests to desilt the drains. “You can actually see the silt in the four drains opposite Sion Hospital and the drains outside the Matunga and Sion police stations,’’ he said. And in places, where the drains had been dredged, the slush had piled by their sides. “All of that flowed back into the drains, leading to waterlogging,’’ Vora said.

IIT-Powai associate professor Kapil Gupta blamed it on the inadequate storm-water drain system and the intensity of the rain, the average of which was recorded to be 74 mm per hour. Gupta has been monitoring the rain intensity recorded on the BMC rain gauges in the 27 catchment areas and is a consultant for the civic body.

Residents, however, refused to listen to expert logic. P K Ravindranath of Kalanagar said: “On 26 July, when it rained 944 mm, our flats remained under water for 40 hours. This time, it has rained just a fraction of that amount, but the effect has been the same.’’

In several areas, like Santacruz, Juhu, Vile Parle, Khar and Andheri, when water seeped into people’s homes, they received no response from the BMC’s helpline, Andheri civic activist Tripti Patel said. Dadar T T and Parsi Colony residents, too, had the same experience on Saturday, local civic activist Siloo Marker said.

Simpreet Singh, a member of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, said Mankhurd’s Annabhau Sathenagar slums were under 2-ft water. And Malad’s Ambujwadi Basti, where waterlogging has never occurred before, got flooded on Saturday. “Over 3,000 families staying there complained about garbage being dumped on an open plot near their homes. The drains got choked because of the dumping and illegal construction affected the flow of water into the creek,’’ Singh said.

IIT associate professor Gupta warned that it was just the beginning and the city could expect more such days. “Roads are being expanded, with drains either being narrowed down or destroyed, as a result of which, water can hardly flow in them. On the Western Express highway, near Milan Subway, the drain width has been reduced and at Powai, outside IIT, the drains have been filled up with debris from the construction of the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road,’’ he said.

Disgruntled with the civic body’s lack of effort, Adolf D’Souza, the independent corporator from Juhu, alleged that the BMC had declared that nullahs in the city have been cleaned though that was not really the case. “Water started filling up in the Juhu-Vile Parle Development Scheme area at 10.30 am and, by 11.30 am, it entered the houses there. When the BMC says it has cleaned around 75% nullahs, what it really means is 25%. In my area, not enough labourers were deployed to dredge the drains,’’ he said.

At Guzder Bandh, Santa Cruz, it was 26/7 all over again for residents who had fought a case in court against the unauthorised slums and got the squatters evicted. But, since the sluice-gates were yet to be installed, ground-floor residents watched as water seeped into their homes.