The BMC has clearly said that they have doubled the quantity of silt removed from Mithi River to increase its holding capacity

Crores already spent on its desilting but the Mithi river was flooded again Friday as heavy showers pounded the maximum city. Large parts of low-lying Kurla remained inundated for several hours, not sparing even ministers and corporators.

Water floodwater entered the office and house of state Minority Minister Nawab Malik on LBS Road. NCP corporator Kaptan Malik, too, said his car remained stuck on this flooded stretch for hours.

Swelling in the river had affected the water receding capacity of local stormwater drains and nullahs that discharge into Mithi. But even though the intensity of the rain slowed after 9 am, areas including Kalpana Theatre, Sheetal Cinema, LBS Road, CST Road, Shivsrushti Road in Kurla east remained completely submerged for at least seven hours, local residents said.

According to the local weather observatory, Kurla alone received 195 mm rainfall between 12am and 12pm. However, as water entered several housing societies abutting the Mithi river, several corporators and citizens questioned the pre-monsoon desilting work in the Mithi.

“The BMC has clearly said that they have doubled the quantity of silt removed from Mithi River to increase its holding capacity. If that is true then why was there flooding when the rainfall recorded today was lower than in 2019? No proper cleaning of the nullah has been done. All the claims of the civic body are false,” Malik said.

Additional Municipal Commissioner (projects) P Velrasu, meanwhile, pinned the blame on multiple factors. “There was heavy rain in areas near Mithi River. Also, a high tide of about 4 metres in the evening was one of the contributing factors for flooding in the river. The removal of the excess quantity of silt from Mithi helped better flow and we feel there was an improvement,” Velrasu told The Indian Express. In 2020-21, the BMC had set a target of removing 1.40 lakh metric tonne silt but in 2021-22 it increased the quantity to 2.74 lakh metric tonne.

He added, “It is not correct to compare today’s situation with some other day.”
Activist Anil Galgali said Rs 1,700 crore has been spent over the years by BMC and MMRDA on Mithi River cleaning and other related projects but “nothing had changed”.
“There should be an audit of the money spent on Mithi River. Despite crores spent, things are the same each year,” Galgali said.


Slum dewellers evacuated

As Mithi River crossed the danger mark of 3.6 metres early Friday, to reach up to 3.96 metres, the BMC evacuated about 250 people from the Kranti Nagar slum, located on the riverbank as a precautionary measure. Later in the day, the residents were moved back to their houses. “We have moved around 250 people to safe locations after there was a rise in Mithi’s water level. However, with the intensity of the rain coming down, they were allowed to go back to their homes. Some parts of Kurla were waterlogged for several hours,” said Manish Valunje, assistant municipal commissioner of L-ward (Kurla).

Aarey flooded
A retaining wall, constructed on the Mithi riverbank and the construction of Aarey Metro car shed in its floodplains, has caused flooding in many parts of Aarey Milk Colony and Goregaon, environmentalists said Friday. “During the construction of the car shed for Metro-3, there was a concretisation of the Mithi riverbank. This has now blocked the flow of rainwater in Mithi,” Stalin D of NGO Vanashakti said, calling for the demolition of the structures.

Vaccination disrupted
Friday’s downpour disrupted the Covid-19 vaccination drive at the civic-run Sahakar Cinema ground centre in Chembur. The vaccination centre, a makeshift unit in open ground, is located in the low-lying Chembur in the eastern suburbs. It remained ankle-deep in water till noon on Friday. While the BMC shut the vaccination for the walk-in beneficiaries, those with appointments were shifted to a nearby centre at PL Lokhande Marg in Chembur. BMC said based on rainfall prediction and the ground situation, it will plan if the vaccination centre can be opened Saturday. Vaccination drives did not suffer at other centres in the city. On Friday, 88,623 persons were inoculated.

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