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BMC responsible for flooding in Mumbai?

The heavy showers on Thursday night and Friday throughout the day in the suburbs of the city have exposed the “monsoon-readiness” claim of the BMC and other departments. With a downpour of less than 300 mm that lasted for a day or so, almost all the suburbs stations and bus stops were flooded including streets. The wide coverage on TV channels of several areas like Sion, Chunabhatti, Chembur,  King’s Circle, Matunga, Dadar, Hindmata, Parel, in the Central line and  Mumbai Central, Jogeshwari, Malad-Khandivli, Vile Parle, Santacruz  in the western areas flooded and  nearly submerged in waist length waters, were just too shocking, considering that it was just the “first shower” of the monsoon. The tracks of all the three suburban lines got totally submerged in the rain. The “lifeline of Mumbai” was totally affected and were in standstill situation, hitting hard the commuters with its services. The railways affected in the peak hours restrained many commuters to hit the office door and they returned from the station to their respective houses, and those who ventured out, were left stranded. The photographs, TV shots and the videos of all the flooded areas, reminded us of the worst flood we were face on 26th July 2005.

The assurances given by the top officials of almost all the municipal corporation in Mumbai and adjacent areas that there will be no flooding have been belied, yet again. The huge amounts said to be spent on drainage work and road repairs (especially) seem to have gone wasted.

It’s exposed that the state government, MMRDA and BMC had not taken earnest efforts to stop water logging, since the main problems were dug-up roads, uncovered manholes, protruding cables, mounds of unclear garbage and debris strewn around every street.

BMC is preparing from months ago, but nothing seems that they have prepared for the monsoon. They made many pumping stations by spending crores of rupees but we had seen flooded roads everywhere. They what’s the use? Was it not the responsibility of the civic authorities to ensure that the works were completed well before the arrival of the monsoon and ensure that the road were free of potholes. We saw several cars and vehicles being stuck in the manholes and submerged in flood waters on the busy roads too – similar to the instances of July 2005. And yes, for very sure, the number of huge and mega-size potholes would have by now appeared on every road of Mumbai, making the lives of the people more dangerous and riskier.

I have a strong question to pose. Who are those municipal officials and contractors who were given contract to keep of the city roads, drainage work, and entrusted with the supervision and carrying out the major repair jobs?  Why are they not being penalized heavily—when we face massive water-logging, floods and so on, year after year? I strongly suggest that it’s better not to spend crores which literally ‘go down the drains”! Blacklist the contractors and officials who had overlooked the work. By doing the shrouds work they are becoming richer and richer at the tax payers’ money.

Incidentally, this time, I find that the satellite suburbs like Dombivli, Kalyan did not face much floods and high water logging. Of course, we could see Dombivli-Kalyan Municipal Corporation, Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation and Thane Municipal Corporation taking several repairs and maintenance works much before the monsoon. It seems that these corporations have done better precautionary work than the BMC.

The monsoon has just begun, but looking at the state of the city and the magnitude of floods and inconveniences, we have faced in first shower; it seems that we have no faith in the civic body. Yes, a city like Mumbai facing heavy rains is a difficult one to handle and the tasks are big to handle by the BMC officials. However, there seems to be no determination in taking stern and concrete efforts in getting prepared to face the monsoon-consequences, with time-bound schedules and learn from the past events.

We have to take precautionary measures and pray that there should not be 26/7 repeated in Mumbai.

KRISHNA KUMAR

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