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Sunday, August 24 1997

Not much water down the drain

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

MUMBAI, Aug 23: The utter inadequacy of Mumbai's hundred-year-old drainage system was exposed as a watery chaos reigned on Friday due to unabated rains that lashed the city. It was exacerbated by the clogging of drains due to garbage piles.

Municipal Corporation officials admit that there is not much that they could do except desilting and widening of existing drains in the city. I G Trivedi, retired deputy city engineer in charge of designing and planning for the city, felt that the drainage system needed to be revamped. He informed that the drains in city and the suburbs has a capacity to cope one inch of rainfall in an hour, and Friday's rainfall measured more than two inches.

He said that the municipal corporation had okayed a Rs 500 crore project to widen the drains and desilt them frequently so that it will be able to take in rainfall at the rate of two inches per hour. The project has already been implemented and it is likely to be completed in the next five years, he said. Meanwhile, S S Tinnaikar, former Municipal Commissioner, however said that the rainfall was not ``abnormally high that it should disrupt the entire rail traffic and road system in the city.'' He added that `Previous incidents of higher rainfall had not led to such a major breakdown. If the BMC claimed that August 15 was a zero garbage day, then such a disruption should not have occurred.'

Environmentalist Debi Goenka came down heavily on the municipal officials saying that corruption should be curbed among the BMC officials and there should be better supervision of work done by contractors.

``Reclaiming land and mangroves on large scale, tendency to concretise land, non-available of natural soil which can soak water, debris and the geographical position of the city were also responsible for the problems,'' said Goenka.

He also stressed that the drainage system needed immediate revision and added that land reclamations should be put to an end. Additional municipal commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad attributed flooding of slums to unbridled development of land.

``The contractor develops his land but the surrounding land is not filled and the slums on these land are affected when there is heavy rainfall,'' he elaborated. He said that sudden accumulation of rain and narrow storm water drains caused all the problem, adding, ``High tide on Friday afternoon with heavy rainfall and poor drainage facility was the reason for the chaos.''

Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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