The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) 130 crore ambitious project to construct the city’s first underground rainwater storage tanks near Hindmata as a pilot project runs into trouble after strong opposition from BJP leaders and residents. The project is aimed at reducing the problem of waterlogging in chronic flooding spots of Hindmata, Parel, Prabhadevi, Dadar etc and BMC was targetting to complete it by June 2021.
The underground rainwater storage tanks will be constructed as a pilot project, and depending on its efficacy as a monsoon flood-prevention measure, the plan would then be executed in other areas, BMC officials said. As per the plan, two underground water storage tanks, made of concrete, would be constructed at Pramod Mahajan Kala Udyan at Dadar and another St Xavier's ground at Parel.
While BMC just flagged off the work and has set a target of constructing the two tanks in the area by June. The plan has not gone down well with the locals, who have alleged that the project might destroy the "beautiful" Pramod Mahajan Kala Udyan. " We will lose a beautiful facility that we have got in our vicinity to such a project. Can the BMC speak to residents/local ALMs and guarantee us that the waterlogging issues will be resolved with this project. Also, the project does not look feasible to us technically," said a resident on the condition of anonymity.
Each tank will be 100 meters in length, 50-meter wide, and six-meter deep with a storage capacity of about 30 lakh litres of water. The project will cost around Rs 130 crore.
After receiving flak from all corners for failing to prevent flooding, the BMC started working on a long-term solution to mitigate flooding triggered by heavy rainfall in a very short span of time. Such tanks are constructed in countries like South Korea, Canada and Japan, the officials added.
“On a pilot basis, we will construct underground water tanks near Hindmata. This is new for the BMC, however, our team of engineers visited Tokyo, and they have seen water-holding ponds there. Our target is to complete the project before the monsoon, hence we are trying to finish the work by June. We will monitor how it helps during the rains. Based on the success of this project we will make similar arrangements in other chronic flooding areas,” a senior BMC official said adding that these tanks could take care of four hours of continuous heavy rainfall (about 300mm), he said.
Officials said Hindmata is one of the worst-affected areas during every monsoon as it starts getting flooded much early compared to other places due to the saucer shape of the locality. Sometimes water level in areas goes up to four to five feet high, disrupting traffic as well as businesses.
As per the project, space below the Hindmata flyover will be used to install pumps along with water-collection tanks. From the collection area, water will be pushed to both storage tanks through a newly-laid pipeline network with the help of pumps. Once high tides are over, the stored water will be pumped again to the pipeline and discharged into the sea via drains.
Raising doubts in te technical feasibility Bhalchandra Shirsat, BJP-nominated BMC corporator and standing committee member said: "The entire project which is proposed or de-watering Hindmata and nearby areas is not feasible at all according to me and it will not serve the purpose. The project is actually a detour when there is a straightway to divert the rainwater directly to the Cleveland pumping station. Besides this there was no tender floated for the project, still, work was allotted to three to four different contractors and the work started."
Shirsat added, "We will not let the work continue until we get clarity on the entire process."