After Mumbai was inundated with a record-breaking 944.2 mm of rainfall between 26-27 July 2005, the state government set up a fact-finding committee headed by the former chairman of the Central Water Commission, Madhav Chitale to examine the causes of the extreme weather event and suggest solutions. The committee studied Mumbai’s rivers and their basins, and other factors responsible for the ineffective routing of the natural flow in their watersheds. The 359-page Chitale Committee report has, since then, become the lodestar by which Mumbai’s anti-flood measures are assessed.
The Committee observed that land and property development has affected the natural ability of the city to manage rainwater in an environment-friendly way. It suggested, among other measures, that the channels along the Mithi river be kept free of encroachments, the drainage feature be kept to the required width and cleaned of siltation, and not subject to sudden changes of direction.
The government is yet to implement the recommendations of the Chitale report like integrating urban planning with measures to combat extreme weather events, conserving natural ecosystems including mangrove and wetland protection, developing climate-resilient infrastructure, increasing urban green zones, and banning the development on river flood plains leading to water logging and flooding in Mumbai. The scope of the report makes it still relevant and worth a read after all these years as Mumbai tends to continue flooding every monsoon.