Metro and local trains won’t come to a standstill this monsoon, says Mumbai civic chief

Praveen Pardeshi, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief, in an interview, a response to HT’s five-part monsoon audit last week, assured Mumbaiites that Metro and local trains would not come to a standstill this monsoon. He said pending pre-monsoon work at 200-odd spots is still to be completed, but said it will be done by June 20.

Any new policies or methodologies you are looking at to deal with Mumbai’s rains?

Our team is working on a mobile application, where any citizens can counter claims about road and stormwater drain work, by uploading a photograph. In this case, we can immediately respond. Citizens will be able to use this service from June 15 or 16 onwards.

We also plan to use the disaster management room proactively, instead of reactively. We are planning to generate scenarios based on rainfall predictions. Based on a certain scenario, we find out whether this particular part of Mumbai is going to receive heavy rainfall.

Then we can run the scenario on our nullahs, on our low-lying areas, and figure out how many houses will be affected. Then we can warn people if it is really severe. We can put more pumps to remove water.

There are still untackled flooding-prone spots. What are BMC’s plans to tackle waterlogging?

There are still 34 chronic flooding spots in the city where we have not addressed the situation, such as Hindmata in Dadar, and the area around Chamdavadi nullah in Bandra. We are working on specific spots.

Rest of the work will be done after monsoon. But as of now, we are trying to mitigate flooding in these areas and reduce its impact this monsoon.

A lot of unfinished pre-monsoon work is still going on. Will this affect Mumbaiites?

By June 20, none of these things will remain. There is an opportunity for us as the rains have been delayed by another seven-eight days. By then, all work will be done. There are 200-odd roadside strips across the city, where work has not been completed, but they will be done before monsoon.

HT’s monsoon audit revealed ongoing infrastructure projects may add to woes, such as increased waterlogging, traffic jams. Your comment.

We already had meetings with all organisations. The chief minister had a big meeting with MMRDA, Railways, Cidco and MHADA, and we are following up on the coordination points mentioned during the CM’s meeting. Moreover, in the BMC’s disaster management room, we have hotlines to each of these organisations, which are manned 24X7, so coordination is instantaneous.

According to you, as monsoon preparedness or disaster response, what is most important for BMC?

Most issues arising from monsoon (like waterlogging) have been taken care of by the corporation, along with organisations such as the railways. Most importantly, Metro and local trains will not come to a standstill this time. If something dramatic happens, then we cannot say about that. With the sort of expected rainfall, almost all culverts and all pumping stations are active.

However, we have to be very careful about dilapidated buildings, because some of them are still occupied despite warnings. We are concerned about that. Another concern is habitations on slopes prone to landslide.

You had said potholes on roads can be attributed to waterlogging, which in turn is attributed to bad drains. What solutions are we looking at to deal with potholes?

A long-term solution to deal with potholes is that all roads should have good stormwater drains and a system to clear accumulated water. All utilities, like telephone lines, optical fibres, and water pipelines, should not be crossing the road. They should be along the side in a duct, which can be repaired without digging up the road. Now, we don’t have it like that because roads were built along with pipelines crisscrossing. Repairing them means disrupting the entire city. We have taken a policy decision that as and when the road comes up for renewal, just renewing it will not do.

We will shift utilities along the side and then repair the road. This will take time, but step-by-step, the roads will be better engineered, and won’t have to be dug up for repairing water pipelines.

Safety of pedestrians is one of the prime concerns during monsoon. What measures does BMC have in place for pedestrian safety?

We have removed a large number of risky trees. As for manhole covers, sometimes someone steals them and it is not that they were never fixed.

Any specific directions you have given to your staff?

They have been working round the clock. We have said leaves should be carefully taken now.

First Published:
Jun 10, 2019 08:37 IST

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