One of our followers on Twitter — @mid_day, if you don’t know that already — sent us this message yesterday, soon after the rains brought our city to a screeching halt: ‘I am turning 50 in a couple of months and this Mumbai rain story has remained the same. It’s as if you recycle it year after year.’ We share his frustration. It sometimes feels as if we recycle the story too, year after year, as everything from roads to transport and other services shuts down like clockwork hours after the first heavy shower.
Outsiders would assume the city of Mumbai had learned its lessons well in the aftermath of July 26, 2005. Approximately 5,000 people lost their lives that day. According to reports published at the time, 52 local trains were damaged, as were approximately 4,000 taxis, 900 buses and 30,000 auto-rickshaws. The numbers were shocking enough to assure most people outside the city that our governing bodies wouldn’t let something like that happen ever again.
Two major projects — the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drain (Brimstowad) and development of the Mithi river — were announced soon after the furore died down.
As parts of our city shut down again following yesterday’s showers, we decided (even though we knew the futility of the task beforehand) to look at how far the BMC had progressed with those much-publicised projects. The first, which initially cost Rs 1,200 crore, now costs Rs 4,000 and is barely halfway there. As for the second, our series of reports last month on how the cleaning of the river is progressing ought to give you a more realistic idea of what the reality is as opposed to what the BMC says. The cost of the project, for those still interested, is now over Rs 1,600 crore.
Will the BMC ever learn?
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