MUMBAI: A day after 35 people died in a wall collapse triggered by a landslide, Mumbai officials on Monday started evacuating people from vulnerable areas.
However, with 22,000 slums housing over 1.50 lakh people in landslide-prone zones, activists fear such makeshift evacuations are only delaying a major disaster waiting to happen.
In 2005, RTI activist Anil Galgali had sought information on how many slums lay close to landslide-prone locations and the government plans to relocate them.
However, 16 years on, nothing much has been done by the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation and the urban development department.
Chavan government ordered survey of vulnerable areas
Galgali alleged that after a few landslide incidents, Maharashtra former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had ordered the officials to identify landslide-prone slums across Mumbai.
“In the survey, 22,483 slums were identified as prone to landslide. There were 3,968 and 18,797 slums in South Mumbai and suburban districts, respectively. These slums were spread over 327 locations. Of 22,483, residents of 9,657 slums needed to be urgently relocated. Nothing has been done,” he alleged.
Missing master plan
Galgali said the state government and the local authorities were more interested in constructing the retaining walls than locating the people.
“I have pursued this issue with all MPs and MLAs, but have never received any positive response. Unless the government prepares a long-term plan to shift the people, Mumbai will continue to lose lives,” the RTI activist said.
New survey coming
He recalled a meeting, wherein the administration had given in writing that a master plan for the rehabilitation of slum dwellers close to landslide-prone areas would be prepared in a month, but nothing was done.
Attempts to contact Eknath Shinde, who is in charge of the urban development department, went in vain.
However, the department said the figure of 22,000-odd slums was from an old survey, and a new study to ascertain the facts before drawing a master plan was in the pipeline.
Rains pummel city
Rains continued to lash Mumbai for the third consecutive day, leaving a trail of destruction across the financial capital of India. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said wall collapse incidents were reported from five places, but no life was lost.
Power failure, inundation, short-circuit sparked fires and traffic
snarls were reported from across the city.
In Navi Mumbai, more than 200 tourists were trapped after spate in a local river. Local authorities with the help of fire and rescue personnel evacuated the tourists to safety.
Due to heavy rains, nearly 400 vehicles, including high-end cars and motorbikes, were submerged in an underground public parking lot built by the Mumbai civic body at Thakur Complex in suburban Kandivali.
While the BMC did not put a number, it assured to look into the possibility of giving compensation to their owners.