Mumbai gutters: Satya Kiran Times
Mumbai deserves cleaner gutters*
M G WARRIER
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary before me defines a gutter as ‘a shallow trough beneath the edge of a roof, or a channel at the side of a street, for carrying off rain water’. In Mumbai, gutter has assumed different meanings for different people. For most of us, a gutter is a trench provided by municipal corporation where dirty water get collected and people dump waste. Now, let me ‘come to the point’!
A 12 feet wide gutter flows adjacent to the housing complex in Bhandup (West) where we stay. It comes from somewhere beyond Pawai and silently flows beyond our area, perhaps terminating somewhere near Vashi creek. The stretch of the gutter from Powar Public School to some distance beyond Bhandup Railway station has huge accumulations of waste and water has no free flow. The sides of the gutter ‘house’ snakes, rats and other ‘wild life’ creatures. The gutter provides a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes and a variety of fleas.
The one kilometre stretch visible from Bhandup Railway Station supports the following:
i) Sale of about 20,000 units of mosquito repellents per month to 10,000 households.
ii) Fumigation contracts in several housing societies in the area.
iii) Extra income for the medical profession providing healthcare support to residents in this area.
iv) Savings for some families which throw their waste into the gutter.
The list is illustrative and not exhaustive. Just wondering, whether any vested interests are preventing the authorities from periodical cleaning of gutters. When normal and routine thing do not happen normally and routinely, citizens use their imagination to formulate ‘allegations’. In Kerala, at one stage, people alleged commercial interests of ‘anti-rabies medicines lobby’ to be behind supporters of ‘save street dogs campaign’!
Speaking from the ramparts of Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had exhorted people of India to cleanse their premises. ‘Swacch Bhaarat Abhiyaan’ is a follow up of this.
In Mumbai, gutters are cleaned once in a year, sometime in May/June to ensure free flow of water to prevent flooding of streets. What is preventing Municipal Corporation from ensuring that the gutters remain clean during other periods also? If someone has an answer, express it!
(The writer is a freelancer based in Mumbai and author of the 2014 book “Banking, Reforms & Corruption: Development Issues in 21st Century India”. Email email@example.com)
*Article published in Satya Kiran Times, November 1-15, 2016