Mumbai: No respite from flooding this monsoon too

Mumbai: No respite from flooding even this monsoon as the work on Mahul pumping station gets delayed further due to non-availability of land for the project. Once constructed, the Mahul pumping station will improve the chronic flooding during monsoon at King's Circle, Matunga and Dadar-Hindmata area.

However, according to elected public representatives in the civic body, the construction of the pumping station may take at least a year or two after the land is acquired and all necessary permissions are obtained. Civic officials said they were trying to acquire the land soon so that they can start the process.

The pumping station at Mahul is part of the eight pumping stations planned under Brimstowad project and is one of the two stations which are yet to be constructed. The construction of another pumping station in Mogra in Andheri is also pending.

After the 2005 floods, a government-appointed committee had suggested construction of eight pumping stations in the city.

Officials said that among the six, Lovegrove at Worli, which became operational in 2015, is the biggest with 10 pumps. The Mahul station will have 25. Each pump can throw 6,000 litres per second. After Mahul, BMC needs another station at Mogra in Andheri.

Non-availability of land has delayed the Mahul pumping station project for over a decade. After identifying the plot, BMC issued tenders for the project multiple times but the work is yet to start. The civic body has written several letters for land transfer but got little response so far. Last year in June tenders floated for the project were scrapped owing to non availability of land.

BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that the tenders were scrapped in June 2020, since the land that needs to be acquired to construct the pumping station at Mahul was salt pan land owned by union commerce and ministry and that the BMC was yet to acquire the land.

The BMC had then decided to invoke the Disaster Management Act to acquire six acres of salt pan land at Mahul to build the city’s biggest pumping station, which will help deal with water-logging at Kingcircle , Matunga, Kurla, Sion, Wadala, Hindmata and few other parts of Dadar. In two weeks, it’s the third instance of BMC deciding to invoke the Act.

Officials learnt that the land is being rented out for salt production and part of it has mangroves.In 2019, BMC invoked the act to accelerate drain work at Hindmata, which was getting delayed over permission to axe trees. BMC also invoked the Act to remove encroachments adjoining a nullah in the suburbs recently.

"BMC has been negotiating with the central government. The administration also claims to have corresponded multiple times with the salt commissioner but the issue is not moving forward. What are we waiting for, why are they not acquiring the land by invoking disaster management act. It seems BMC is not getting the land anytime soon. Even if they manage to get it now, it will take at least one and a half years to two years for them to construct the pumping station. Hence no respite to Mumbaikars from flooding even this year," said Ravi Raja, leader of opposition in the BMC.

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