Mumbai: Mumbaikars and activists go all guns blazing at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) days before monsoon kicks in. The civic body tries to up the ante every year but in a city that never sleeps, no work is ever enough. Activists feel the corporation fails to instill confidence in public minds each and every year. “Even if they satisfy people mentally, they will adjust to many things. Instead, they continue to disappoint every time with their tall claims not coming to fruition,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation, an NGO that brings into light the civic issues people face in their daily routine.
Pimenta added that the corporation is indifferent to people suffering and dying due to monsoon wreckage. “The money is all they want. If they were really bothered about people, they would have taken immediate action after the doctor had died after falling into an open manhole. But instead, even after promising, only 900 protective nets were installed under manholes out of over one lakh manholes in the city,” he said.
After the death of Dr Deepak Amarapurkar who fell into an open manhole near Elphinstone Road the last monsoon, the civic body had decided to fix protective nets under one lakh manholes in Mumbai. However, a senior civic official from the storm water drains department (SWD) confirmed earlier this month that BMC will not be fixing nets under manholes in the suburbs for this monsoon, thus cautioning pedestrians while wading through flooded roads.
Also, an astonishing 59 percent of the 1,878 roads on which the BMC had undertaken repairs and maintenance work last year are in half-complete state. Work on half of these unfinished roads will be done in post-monsoon months, according to civic officials.
“For a city this big it becomes a task too many. Although we have to admit that when a task is taken at hand, it should be completed, but like the city is ever-increasing, the same cannot be said about BMC. It remains however it was years ago. One has to think that is it really the civic body that lags behind? Or is the influx of people increasing day by day?” asked a civic official on condition of anonymity.
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar had absolved the civic body of the likely snags last week and declared that the state government will be answerable if Mumbai is flooded this monsoon because its agencies have undertaken development work across the city. Another city activist said that the main problem lies in the BMC shrugging its responsibilities and blaming others for their failures. “If a student fails in his exam, he cannot blame Bollywood industry for releasing good films during the exam period. A student’s job is to study. Using the same yardstick, BMC’s job is to take care of the city should there be any crisis and take responsibility in they fail to do so,” said Priyank Sanghavi, a social worker and local activist.