Now that the monsoons are on the way to my lovely city Mumbai, I keep thinking about those water logging incidents, bumpy rides on potholes, struggle to get in local and war like situation dealing with rickshaw wala. There is no other season or weather that can fill one with as deep and different emotions as the rains. Hindi movies have always used rains for different reasons. Before the arrival of monsoon in the city, the opposition always points fingers at ruling party, earlier BJP used to attack now Congress and NCP are doing the same job leaving these political parties aside the civic body’s claim that most of the city nullahs have been cleaned. But if you visit Borivali nullah near national park most of them are filthy, overflowing with plastic covers and other garbage. The work at the Dahisar river nullah is yet to be completed. At many nullahs the parapet walls have not been built. The nullahs of Dahisar River, Chandavarkar nullah did not have proper parapet wall causing flooding during heavy rains. Lack of funds is one of the reasons that parapet walls have not been built at some nullahs. The NL Complex nullah which starts from Dahisar (E) near Sanjay Gandhi National Park and flows into the Mira Bhayander creek is still not cleaned properly. During high tide, there are chances that water might go backwards and flood some areas, instead of flowing into the sea. This is the main cause for water borne diseases. People suffer with different kind of strange viral infections.
Sea shores remain dirty and beaches are dumped with all sort of waste. Lakes are stinking. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had planned to remove around 3,90,000 cubic metres of silt in May. They should have removed 1600 truckloads of silt every day. Since a large number of Mumbaiites are used to urinating, spitting and defecating in public places, rains promptly absolve us of the guilt of our reckless conduct. In this way, we can continue to blame the authorities for not making our areas hygienic and mosquito free whilst assuring ourselves unrestricted use of the freedom we won so dearly. Common public and BMC both blame each other but main issues get sidelined, above all politics kills the substance of the purpose. I have been witnessing Mumbai rains since my birth, but every year issues remain unsolved.
The BMC had earlier issued a report detailing the progress made in desilting the nullahs and the Mithi River. The report claimed that around 90 per cent of the nullahs and the Mithi river desiltation target had been achieved by the end of May. But June has already arrived and the fate of Mithi River remains unchanged. BMC planned to dump the entire silt outside Mumbai. Now, we pay Rs 170 to a worker for clearing a cubic metre of silt. Any other worker would demand Rs 400. How will the work be completed in time? According to a BMC report, the civic body had set a target of removing 60 per cent of the total silt from the nullahs and the Mithi river. But if you actually look at BMC’s cleaning claims you will witness only floating material is removed. It is not desilted the way it should be. Only the rains now will decide how monsoon-ready the city is.
Various desilting works across major and minor nullahs were still incomplete; BMC officers revisited these nullahs and promised to desilt them thoroughly. The officials said that despite cleaning, nullahs sometimes appeared clogged due to excessive dumping of garbage by slum dwellers living along the edges of these nullahs. BMC revisited nullah at Antop Hill, Islampura nullah at Chembur, Mankhurd station nullah, Dahanukarwadi nullah at Poisar and nullahs at the Gorai creek and cleaned them. The Mankhurd station nullah, is yet to be cleaned. The banks of the Islampura nullah that was partially cleaned were dumped with the removed silt. However, on June 7, the silt from the banks was transported, according to BMC officials. Officials also admitted that the upstream nullahs of Gorai creek were still being desilted and the work will be completed within two days. The CEM India nullah is an untrained pond-like nullah which overflows and floods the nearby central government quarters annually during monsoons. BMC assured that the work on cleaning the nullah has started and the floating material will be removed regularly by BMC workers.
At the Poisar river nullah in Kandivali (W) a bridge above the nullah was broken but a new one has not yet been constructed. The bridge which is proposed to be 6 foot long will be built by next monsoon said an official. At Iraniwadi in Kandivali (W), although the Poisar river nullah has been cleaned once, the foot over bridge built over the nullah has been broken and the silt has not yet been picked up. “There is a tussle going on between BMC and bridge department on who will lift the silt”.
If we look at other side, nature always has something to give. In a city like Mumbai or for that matter any Indian city facing perpetual water shortages, rains signify the abundance of this scarce commodity. Many people just walk in the rain to have a bath they had promised themselves long back. Many leave buckets and pans in the open to fill these up as never before. Rains in Mumbai also result in essential cleanliness of our foul surroundings or at least some of the waste is hidden in the waters. The long-lasting dust settles down. Since we have this compelling urge to litter, rains instantly carry our wrong-doings away from us. Rains are loved by the Mumbai media ever starved to break news. During other seasons there is nothing much to report. But, during rains the media can forever indulge in such populist topics as trashing authorities for being insensitive to people’s basic needs.