23 July, 2007

Mumbai: Challenges Ahead

Watched a good program "Mumbai 2005 floods" on National Geographic. They tried to explain what exactly happened on 26th July 2005.

- It rained heavily, around 900 mm in 24 hrs in Suburbs.
- Land reclamation and narrow Mithi river could not carry away water fast enough.
Almost everything (trains, airports, roads, electricity supply, emergency services) came to halt on that day in Mumbai.

I was searching for more information, found this excellent article about challenges in creating drainage, water treatment system for growing Mumbai.

Some of interesting bits are :
year 1947, population 1.7 million approx.
year 1970, population 8.0 million approx.
year 2005, population 15 to 20 million estimated
year 2025, population 26.5 million estimated

"But despite some progress, the World Bank was ultimately disappointed with the outcome. A 1995 audit of its Bombay Sewage Disposal Project found that the plan's implementation was "little short of disaster." Huge cost overruns, insufficient expertise and shoddy workmanship all contributed."

"Many Indian engineers are well-educated and highly skilled, he adds--and in any case, locals tend to have a better grasp of their own problems than foreigners.
What Indian firms often lack, however, are management and supervision skills for big projects, which may also require highly specialized expertise found only in foreign firms."

"Many Mumbai residents don't pay for water and sewerage services; Indians tend to regard them as free. That has discouraged investment in system improvements, which, in turn, has contributed to well-founded complaints about poor service and bolstered resistance to user fees."

"RVA's Indian experience has left Perks with an abiding respect for Indian engineers and administrators who run the existing system. "They do a pretty good job for the infrastructure they have and the pressures they're under," ....