Mumbai: The reconstruction of the Wankhede stadium before the Cricket World Cup this year was concluded with much fanfare and came with a big bill, Rs 285 crore. That money is about to go down the drain, literally.
For, no one took note of the collapsing drainage system underneath the stadium before embarking on its ambitious renovation.
Now, the old and dilapidated underground drains need urgent repairs if the area is to be spared flooding, which means tearing down the renovation and redoing the whole thing all over again.
Who does the blame rest with? The stadium management, says BMC.
Before renovating the stadium, the civic body had asked them to repair the drainage but the management ignored the suggestion. Now they must undertake the reparation work and costs.
During the course of the renovation prior to the World Cup, the BMC had made it mandatory to incorporate suggestions made by its various departments the Tree Authority, Fire Brigade and Storm Water Drainage in the reanimation plan forwarded to them by the MCA.
And the Mumbai Cricket Association which manages the stadium had to comply with the SWD's recommendation of repairing the old drainage line running beneath the stadium.
"They had known this since they proposed the stadium's renovation in 2008. They put it off until the Cup was just round the corner.
Since the stadium had to be ready in time for the matches, we gave them a part-Occupation Certificate, on the condition that they would carry out the pending work soon after the Cup," said a BMC official, unwilling to be named.
Chief Engineer LS Vhatkar, SWD, said, "The MCA did not repair the drainage line running through the ground under the stadium during the renovation. We reminded them in April this year and asked them to begin work at the earliest.
But as the work cannot be begun during monsoon, we would send them another letter when the rainy season ends."
Vhatkar added that although there is no major flooding problem in the area, there would be water logging at Churchgate and the M K Road if the drainage system collapses during or after the monsoon.
The wastewater passes from the catchment area to the railway drainage at Churchgate, courses through the drains below the Mumbai Hockey Association ground and finally meets the Wankhede Stadium drain before being ejected into the sea.
An SWD official said on condition of anonymity, "The Association did not have enough time to finish the work before the Cup.
Now, it would result in losses for them, as they have to excavate parts of the ground where the drain is located in order to replace it."
No way out?
"There is no way that they can use an alternative technique as they have to build a new concrete drain, a strong structure with chambers. While the current line undergoes repairs, they would also have to create a temporary diversion," said the official.
Vhatkar said, "The management would have to incur costs on repairs. But they have to excavate the ground and rebuild the drain."
He further added that the MCA need only repair the line below the stadium; the part under the road would be replaced by the Corporation.
"But a major part of the line falls under the stadium and unless they do not rebuild, the work on the remaining line would fall waste," said Vhatkar
According to officials, the replacement of the drainage line almost the length of the diameter of the stadium would be completed in 2-3 months. The cost of the drain alone would run into lakhs. Setting the ground straight again means more expenses.
"If the drainage line runs underneath the stands, the MCA would have to pull them apart to carry on the work, which would further add to the costs," said the official.
BMC's standing committee Chairman Rahul Shewale said, "The MCA have only been given a part-Occupation Certificate as they had not completed the work in time for the Cup.
We had only cleared the no-objection certificate from the Fire Brigade. They still have to fulfill the requirements, only then would they get the OC."
The existing round-arched drainage was built with normal bricks and materials during the British era. Since it is ancient and crumbling, it needs to be rebuilt. The new one would be a box drain of 1.5 m in width and 2 m in height, dotted with manholes for cleaning.
The Other Side
The Vice-president of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), Ratnakar Shetty, said, "We have done what was required and would do so in future. I would discuss the issue with the civic body as it is between the MCA and BMC."