central aid has finally been approved to revamp Mumbai's stormwater drainage system by 2011. But experts are sceptical whether the project is still relevant. The Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drains (brimstowad) project was conceived after the monsoon floods in 1985. A plan with recommendations was prepared by 1993. But the recommendations could not be implemented due to several factors including lack of funds. The project cost has escalated to Rs 1,800 crore since then.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Rs 1,200 crore for the project. Municipal corporation officials say they will be able to implement the project that will save Rs 1,550-crore loss caused annually due to flooding. But experts say the project in its present form will have limited success. "The project proposes to increase Mumbai's drainage capacity to 50 mm per hour.But latest rainfall patterns show that anything less than 100 mm is of no use. Flooding will continue," says Kapil Gupta, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Municipal officials say that a monitoring mechanism of technical experts from the Union and state governments will be formed. The corporation will need to cough up Rs 600 crore to rehabilitate the project affected people. Any further escalation in cost will also have to be borne by the corporation. "Suburbs which get heavy rainfall have become concrete jungles. Rehabilitating slum dwellers may not be easy," says Pallavi Latkar of the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies in Mumbai. Experts say that creating more water retention areas like parks, to store and gradually drain out rainwater, will help check floods.
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