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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Families evacuated along the Mithi

Mumbai: When the Mithi river overflowed and touched its 3.1-metre mark on Tuesday afternoon, memories of the 2005 deluge came alive for the people of Kurla's Kranti Nagar slum.
    Incessant showers hit the Mithi's upstream, causing it to cross its dreaded 2.7-metre mark. As the levels started rising, authorities were alerted and rescue missions started. "We alerted the fire officials and the Navy and 140 families were shifted to a school,'' said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar. This was the area where several people lost their lives in the 26/7 deluge.
    "I got scared when I woke up and saw heavy rain lashing outside. And when announcements were made for us to vacate our homes, visions of the deluge sprang up. It is still difficult for
us to come terms with the loss we faced at that time,'' said 45 year old Ganpat Patil. However, as the rains abated after 4 pm, people came back to their homes. Some continued staying there.
    From Kranti Nagar to Bail Bazaar, Jari Mari to Saki Naka, LWard comprises several areas that absorb the overflow from the Vihar and Tulsi lakes.
    According to experts, the Mithi gets flooded because of the narrow width of the river as it reaches the airport runway. "The widening of the culverts of the river which pass under the runway has not yet been completed as per
the recommendations of the Chitale committee. The width of the culvert under the runway is just 27m and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has to widen it up to a minimum of 40m,'' said local activist Anil Galgali.
    Deputy municipal commissioner Milind Savant agreed that the danger mark at Kranti Nagar bridge is 3.4 metres. "The widening of the culverts should be done soon,'' he said. Senior BMC officials said that the civic body is ready to assist the AAI. "It is up to the AAI to give us permission to widen this portion of the river so that a human tragedy can be avoided when it rains again,'' the official added.
    State labour minister Nawab Malik who inspected the area said that a permanent solution would be the rehabilitation of all the 70,000 slumdwellers staying in this vicinity.
    "By next year, the government will shift slumdwellers from flood-prone areas to the new slum rehabilitation project that is coming up at the Premier Padmini compound in Kurla,'' Malik said.
    An AAI official said they are carrying out the work on the river.


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