The Mumbai unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday slammed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the "unbearable loss of life and property due to flooding and the civic body's refusal to learn from past experiences".
For the unversed, a total of 33 people were killed and six others were left injured in five separate rain-related incidents that occurred due to the virtually non-stop, heavy downpour through late Saturday and early Sunday. There were two landslides, one house wall collapse and two incidents of electrocution reported in the city.
In a press release, the AAP said the BMC has ignored the repeated warnings of scientists and environmentalists. The party also lashed out at the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for its "blatant refusal to pay heed to the recommendations of the 2006 Chitale Committee report, post the 26/07/2005 Mumbai floods".
The AAP said: "Mumbai lies on the Sahyadri Range, in a region that receives some of the highest rainfall in the country. It is no secret that there are heavy rains in Mumbai from June to mid-August every year. The city's four rivers – the Oshiwara, Poisar, Dahisar and Mithi act as the natural drains the city; carrying excessive water to the floodplains, mangroves, and into the Arabian sea."
"However, to the credit of the BMC, the rivers now serve as ‘nalas’, having been excessively concretized on their floodplains, and having become the city’s favourite garbage dumping spots. Reclamation of banks by constructing concrete walls (called ‘Levees’) have allowed for encroachment by developers on the surrounding wetlands & floodplains, altering the river course, and exacerbating the flood-risk for the slum settlements. Plastic and industrial waste have choked the river-steams and shut off the flow of water from natural inlets," the party said.
Ruben Mascarenhas, AAP Mumbai Working President, said the BMC continues to refuse to recognize its failures and take responsibility. "If we look at the major rivers across the world, we understand that river swells occur in long term cycles of 50-100 years, and bank settlements have to be planned for accordingly. But which each passing year, construction on ecologically sensitive zones continues. 16 years on in Mumbai, the BRIMSTOWAD project remains unfinished, wetlands are being concentrized, and mangroves being uprooted," he added.
Preeti Sharma Menon, AAP National Executive Member and Mumbai Prabhari, said the Mumbai civic body fails to prepare the city for floods every year. "Hefty promises are made after every crisis, and forgotten the moment the MVA administration finds better ways to fill its pockets, through its nexus with real estate developers. It is indisputable now, that the BMC has destroyed, and condoned the destruction of the city’s natural infrastructure to an extent where these floods are becoming inevitable. For all their tall claims of preparedness, 6000 crores of public funds have gone down the drain, and we continue to lose life & property - at every instance of heavy rainfall," she added.