Mumbai: A day after heavy rains paralysed the city, Ajoy Mehta, the BMC chief, put the blame squarely at the door of the weather god. He even went a step further: Mehta said that despite the difficult circumstances, the Mumbai’s municipal machinery did a wonderful job.
BMC’s annual budget is over Rs 25,000 crore and it has cash reserves of over Rs 61,000 crore, making it the richest civic body in the country. On Wednesday, the civic chief claimed that all the money that was spent in upgrading the municipal infrastructure was there for everyone to see in the hour of crisis.
In the face of heavy all-round criticism, Mehta said no civic infrastructure could handle the huge quantum of rain that had fallen. “The drains are capable of handling only 50mm of rainfall, but in many areas, rainfall was beyond this capacity,” Mehta argued. The megalopolis received 320mm rain on August 30, the heaviest on a single day since the July 26, 2005, record of 944mm.
Every year, BMC claims it spends billions of rupees, this year over Rs 6 billion, for cleaning drains and upgrading the infrastructure for monsoon preparedness. “BMC has been allocated Rs 1,600 crore for the BrihanMumbai Stormwater Disposal System (BRIMSTOWAD) project, but not even 40 per cent of the work is complete,” said a senior civic official, adding that after things stabilise, the BMC would analyse what went wrong with the response and work out a future plan.
Asked about the deaths following the opening of manholes, Mehta said that people on their own shouldn’t have done so. “If civic workers are involved in the operation, we ensure that people know about it by placing markers,” he said. Mehta said the BMC is now involved in cleaning operations. “Malaria and dengue spread during this time. BMC will fumigating all the water-logged areas,” he said.