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Pre-monsoon desilting of rivers, nallahs in Greater Mumbai at 116% of original plan

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on July 03, 2020 Published on July 02, 2020

Since the city receives the maximum rains in July, the people of Mumbai should brace for severe flooding   -  Emmanual Yogini

Opposition leader says only 30% achieved

The month of June has gone by without any major flooding incidents in Mumbai city. The municipal authorities claim that compared to the original plan, the pre-monsoon desilting of major nallahs and rivers has reached 116 per cent with 2.94 lakh metric tonnes of silt removed from major nallahs. The Mithi river, which was the cause of major flooding in 2005, has also been desilted properly.

However, the Leader of Opposition in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) Ravi Raja believes that the desilting process has been hampered due to the lockdown and only up to 30 per cent of the work has taken place. Since the city receives maximum rains in July, the people of Mumbai should brace for severe flooding, he cautioned.

The whole of Mumbai city has roadside surface drains of about 2,000 km. The underground and lateral drains measure 440 km.

Raja, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of MCGM, told BusinessLine that he has surveyed majors nallahs in the city and based on his assessment only 30 per cent desilting has been done. Therefore, the figure of 116 per cent declared by MCGM Commissioner IS Chahal needs to be explained further, he said. Every year, the process of cleaning is held for three months but still it gets flooded in the city, he added. But this year the contracts were awarded in February and the actual work started in March, but then the lockdown happened.

The contract labourers required for tough jobs started returning to their hometowns. Then how was this work achieved, he asked?

He said that rather than floating big contracts before the monsoon, MCGM should ask the contractors to keep the nallahs, small rivers and stormwater drains clean round the year; only then can the rain water movement remain obstruction-free and there would be no flooding in the city. The sites in the city where major civil works for metro rail is taking place is also expected to flood, Raja claimed.

Additional Municipal Commissioner (Project), P Velrasu, in a WhatsApp message said that MCGM contractors mainly used heavy machinery for cleaning and desilting of rivers, major and medium nallahs. So, they did not face any problem in cleaning. Labour is intensively used in minor nallahs. The work of cleaning them is taken up by ward offices. There are some issues but progress is satisfactory in all except five municipal wards. For metro rail works, a special meeting was convened at the level of the Chief Secretary and instructions were given to keep their sites safe from the monsoon perspective.

BusinessLine also reached out to MCGM Commissioner IS Chahal about the status of desilting and the claims made by Raja, but till the time of going to press there was no response from his office.

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Published on July 02, 2020
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