t seems that the British left us not only the railways, the postal system, education syllabi, jurisprudence and democracy but also the services of storm water drain of a unique arch design built of brick and mortar that has stood the test for over hundred years. The appalling part of the story is that we have not been able to maintain this gift in good repair because we neither know the functions and flows nor do we have any map or record of its network. Locations of this drain are known only to the people present at that time and we do not have a map or any record of its net work. During rain and shine storm water drains come very handy and if maintained properly avoid water logging at focal points. Repair and restoration is carried out only when damage is located accidentally. It is our earnest desire and duty to maintain the storm water drains periodically to make best use of them when monsoon rains inundate low lying areas and cause a chaos in the city.
In this underground of this vast city, as in many others, there is a complicated network of a variety of pipelines, cables and installations comprising storm water drains, sewage pipelines, water supply lines, power supply cables and telecom cables. Added to these, we now have the underground portions of the Metro network. Apart from all, all the service providers of cable connection dig the roads and leave the work incomplete and left in the lurch. There being no central agency to co-ordinate and ensure proper positioning of different underground installations, there is a rash of damages to these vital lines from installation or repair work of one service provider or the other. A related consequence is that in trying to get the clearance of different service agencies, many essential construction projects like roads, flyovers etc. get unduly delayed.
Interruption to services, inter-mixing of water and sewage lines, flooding in times of even moderate rains, disease- causing water-logged conditions, and delays of public utility projects are characteristic of the metropolitan city of Mumbai. The longer this goes on the more complex becomes the problem, the more time and money it takes to correct it, the more intrusive becomes the corrective action and, finally, the more reluctant the authorities become to touch a problem that has become too large and complicated. The Mumbai rainwater drain project needs a facelift and geared up by cleaning the slits well before the monsoon rains.
There are several disturbing symptoms in the storm water drain problem. It is sad that there is no map of this ancient installation to be able to undertake periodic preventive maintenance. The city administrators should pay heed to this fact and make the storm water system work in the most systematic way to prevent waterlogging in the city. The British arch model of the underground drain lines has to show tremendous resistance to time and flood related assaults. Unlike the old times when open soil was of a much higher proportion to paved areas in the city, today the emergence of large buildings and paved areas leaves very little surface area for flood water to seep down, causing it to swell above. It is time to have a broad minded outlook to make the storm water drains fully functional and thus creating an easy and smooth ride for motor vehicles passing through the main areas. If there is no traffic congestion due to flooding then the smooth ride for vehicles can be ensured and thus help out the cause of preventing accidents as well.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)