Since independence, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not bothered to touch or even inspect the 90 kilometres stretch of heritage nullhas which are situated in Elphinstone, Parel, Hindmata, Curey Road, P D Mello Road, Mumbai Central and Byculla.
The Storm Water and Drain (SWD) managment department now wants robots to clean this stretch of heritage nullahs as they find it unable to personally clean them. According to officials in the southern part of Mumbai the SWM has 600 km of nullah network out of which 90 km has never been cleaned in the past several decades as no human being can go inside, since they are of the view that these nullahs can have toxic gas and prove to be risky for the workers. Many heritage sites in Mumbai are located in the southern part of the island city. These heritage sites showcase the aesthetic beauty of Mumbai, but at the same time their maintenance seems to be a tough job. The nullahs in heritage areas are of arch shape and box drains of British era, which have never been cleaned. These are wide, deep and tough for any person to go inside.
BMC now plans to purchase one such robotic jetting machine to clean these nullah on experimental basis. This will be brought from Italy and likely to cost the civic body Rs 6 crore. “This robotic jetting machine can only clean 10 manholes, which is approximately 33 metres per day. One machine cannot clean the entire unattended stretch immediately. if the machine gives good results then the work will be given to only those companies or contractors who manufacture these machines,” said a civic official who did not wish to be named.
BMC annually gears up before monsoon and begins nullah cleaning by April. According to the official, Mumbai has 600 km network of nullahs out of which 26 km of nullahs are cleaned by Bobcat machines. Another 484 km drains are cleaned with available machines and appointed contractors, but remaining 90 km have never been attended to. These are deeper and wider and require advance technology like robots, as human interference is risky over there.” Meanwhile, for the first time BMC is also purchasing pneumatic plug rubber balloons. They are useful to block the upstream manholes while undertaking the nullah cleaning work. The technology is used in America and it is being procured from there and it will cost ` 1.5 crore approximately to BMC.