Pumping out water or siphoning off funds?

Several of the 253 pumps that the BMC uses at low-lying areas were found to be non-functional

Mumbai : If you are wondering how Mumbai got flooded so easily, here’s the reason. The contractors’ pumps at the chronic flooding spots were siphoning off BMC funds rather than sucking out water.

Several of the 253 pumps that the BMC uses at low-lying areas were found to be non-functional. The exact number of such pumps is not known but the BMC slapped a notice for Rs 6 lakh on contractors for non-functional pumps since July. The pumps are used to throw the collected water into the stormwater drains.

Over the past two days, there were widespread complaints of water logging. Sources said that Dev Engineers, whose pump was not functional at Tilak Nagar in Chembur, was fined Rs 5 lakhs by the commissioner himself.

The civic body owns only 14 pumps while 253 pumps have been taken from 12 contractors. The contractors run and maintain these pumps. They are paid Rs 800 to Rs 2,500 per pump per day.

Nationalist Congress Party corporator from Worli Sunil Ahir said, “Evidently, most pumps were not working during heavy rainfall. It is what led to flooding at several spots and the citizens were inconvenienced. Why can’t the BMC buy pumps,” he asked.

He added that he would be writing to civic chief Sitaram Kunte on this issue.

However, additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas said buying pumps is not feasible since it requires heavy maintenance.

“The pumps are being used only for three months in a year and maintaining them for the rest of the year is an expensive and tedious process. In addition, two people are required to operate it. After monsoons they won’t have any work for the rest of the year,” he said. A medium capacity pump costs Rs 5 to Rs 6 lakh.

The contract that has been given now for pumps from May 25 to October

10 has cost the BMC

Rs 10 crore, said the civic officer.

Sachin Unhalekar

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