Reconstruction of 135- year old Malabar Hill reservoir that supplies water to SoBo still stuck in red-tapism

Mumbai : The reconstruction of the 135- year old Malabar Hill reservoir which supplies water to South Mumbai is still stuck in red tapism. The work to increase the reservoir’s storage capacity from 147.78 million litre to 191 million litre was expected to begin from October 2022, which was later extended to January 2023. Since several trees are affected under the project the BMC is still waiting for the approval of the Tree Authority.  

Located at a hillock just beneath the surface of the Hanging Gardens, the reservoir supplies water to Nariman Point, Cuffe Parade, Churchgate, Colaba, Girgaon, Nepean Sea Road and the entire Malabar Hill area. The BMC has undertaken work to reconstruct an existing underground water reservoir with increased capacity to improve the water supply in South Mumbai. The estimated cost of the project is around Rs. 450 crores and will take eight years to complete.

The BMC has finalised the contractor and issued the work order that is divided into five different phases. Accordingly, the work was expected to begin post monsoon last year. “The project has been planned for smooth supply of water to south Mumbai and considering its increasing future water needs. Since several trees are affected in the project, we need a permission for cutting trees. Till the time we have decided to start the other works in next 8 to 10 days of pumping station, laying of water pipeline beneath the road,” said a civic official. 

P. Velarasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects) said, ” Proposal for tree cutting/ transplant is submitted to superintendent of garden department for permission of tree authorities.”

The existing reservoir is the only source of water supply to South Mumbai. So the demolition of the existing reservoir and the construction of the new one will be carried out at the same time. There are seven different chambers for storing water inside the reservoir. To keep the water supply uninterrupted the water from each chamber will be transferred into next chamber after which the demolition and reconstruction work of the specific chamber will begin. 

After a structural audit carried out in 2019, it was decided to reconstruct the reservoir and add compartments to increase its capacity. The civic standing committee had approved the proposal in February 2022. Vaitarna lakes water is supplied to the reservoir. The reservoir is the city’s first water holding tank built in 1887.

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