<u>STORM WATER</u><br>Low-lying areas face risks
Many buildings located in low-lying areas experienced water level up to 7-8 feet; their bearing capacity of soil became soft during the recent monstrous downpour. This is the reason why even roads crumbled and eroded. D.L. Shinde, Deputy Chief Engineer (Roads), BMC, says, "Every year low-lying areas face the same problems, although the recent problem seemed far more extensive than ever."
Innumerable buildings in low-lying areas like Kalina and Kurla were severely affected. The bridges and flyovers too were not spared, but the incidence of its effect was less potent. However, Mumbai had to shoulder infrastructure loss of Rs. 2,000 crore. According to M.S. Rao, Chief Engineer, Building Proposal Department, BMC, says, "A building with stilts is a better replacement for the existing arrangement of ground floors." Yet, for the time being BMC is taking rounds in all low-lying vicinities and checking their status. Later on, a mixture of asphalt macadam and seal coat will be steamrolled on its surface.
The overflowing of storm water drains has also exposed the apathy a low-lying area faces. A smooth flow of the drainage system in and around such area also plays a crucial role. Water logging on roads for more than 72 hours is surely a cause of concern for many city civil engineers. Chetan Raikar, Managing Director, Structwel Designers & Consultants Pvt. Ltd, noted that the presence of water on Mumbai roads for such a long duration would have definitely made the structures feeble.
According to Trilok Singh, associate professor, IIT Mumbai, "Soil investigation should be strictly followed by builders (of roads and buildings) so that problems faced by occupants are minimal." But one of the officials from a disaster management unit views low-lying areas as useful although they suffer loss during such times. He added that a low-lying locality wades a way for drains to flow smoothly, and so levelling isn't a good idea.
Mufotraj Munot, managing director, Kalpataru Builders, offers a solution of building stilts in new structures in such areas and replace ground floor with a parking lot. As for old buildings, the levelling of ground is the only option.
[8 August 2005]