Somaiya urges need for completing river widening project

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Mumbai, May 20 (UNI) Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Kirit Somaiya and Gopal Shetty have urged political parties to abstain from ''vote bank politics'' and extend support to the Mithi River widening work.

The project requires removal of encroachments, but the Congress and NCP leaders and MLAs are trying to protect the encroachers owing to ''vote bank politics'', Mr Somaiya and Mr Shetty alleged while speaking to reporters here today.

The two particularly blamed NCP MLA Nawab Malik and Congress MLAs Naseem Khan, Kripashankar Singh and Prof Janardan Chandurkar on this count and said the work has been hampered after completion of the first phase.

They expressed concern that if the work of widening of the river is not completed, it would lead to water logging during the monsoon.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has completed the river widening work from the Sanjay Gandhi Rashtriya Udyan/Vihar Lake till the Airport Junction, they said. The river has been widened on the northern side of the airport, upto 300 feet and the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority, too, has completed the widening work upto the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), they said. But work between the southern side of the airport and CST Road and BKC is yet to be completed.

The two BJP leaders warned that if the project is not completed, then there could be a repeat of the July 26, 2005 disaster in which 540 people had perished. A spell of heavy rains could create a similar havoc now, they warned.

The two urged the MMRDA Commissioner, the BMC Commissioner and the state Chief Secretary not to bow down to political pressures and ensure that the widening work is completed as per the recommendations of Chitale and other expert committees.

UNI JM MAZ SKB1750

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