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How life has changed for Mumbai residents in flooded areas

Throwing the spotlight on flooded areas, and how life has changed for residents and those who do business here

Over the past 20 years and more, flooding has become synonymous with certain pockets like Dadar TT, Hindmata, Sion Circle and Nana Chowk. Waterlogging is an annual feature here, affecting residents and shopkeepers in different ways.

Not just pedestrians but shopkeepers too face different challenges brought on by waterlogging in Dadar. Pics/Shadab Khan
Not just pedestrians but shopkeepers too face different challenges brought on by waterlogging in Dadar. Pics/Shadab Khan

Dadar TT
Located at the heart of the city, the former tram terminus is a hub for local businesses now. From buses that leave for various parts of the country to the railway station that is a stone-throw away, the Dadar TT area always buzzes with activity.

People stepping out to shop in the rain is a rare occurrence at Sion Circle. Pic/Atul Kamble
People stepping out to shop in the rain is a rare occurrence at Sion Circle. Pic/Atul Kamble

Kishor Das who owns a clothing store at BR Ambedkar Road says that when it rains the number of people who come to his garment shop reduces greatly. The businessman says, “I was a rain lover, but now I have started to hate the season as it has come to be equated with losses for me. Sometimes, I regret the decision I made of choosing to buy a shop here at Dadar TT.”

Getting home from school is a tough task at Grant Road
Getting home from school is a tough task at Grant Road

When it doesn’t rain and it isn’t flooded Das enjoys huge profits but he says that gets balanced out by the losses when it rains and floods. “No one comes here as they do not want to get caught in the mess. I have been running this shop for the last 40 years, the flooding issue should have been sorted with time. But the problem is still an issue even today. I would say that it has become worse now.”

Fun for some, not so for others at Dadar TT. Pic/Abhinav Kocharekar
Fun for some, not so for others at Dadar TT. Pic/Abhinav Kocharekar

Agreeing with Das, Manoj Mehlotra, a sweet shop owner in the area says, “I have seen business from bad to worse much, like the flooding situation. If I had my way I would go back to my village for a good rest during the rainy season to avoid suffering losses. The sweets get spoilt easily due to moisture and supply always exceeds demand during the monsoon.”

Fun for some, not so for others at Dadar TT. Pic/Abhinav Kocharekar
Fun for some, not so for others at Dadar TT. Pic/Abhinav Kocharekar

Sampada Sharma, 34 who has been living in Hindu Colony for the last 20 years says, “Flooding on this road is so bad that we avoid getting our car out as water enters and it starts giving problems. I have started ordering foodgrains online as getting dry foodstuff is a troublesome affair in our area.”

Hindmata Cinema, Dadar
Some distance away at Dadar’s Hindmata Cinema, the story is the same for Ashok Yadav. The grocer who has been running Rajaram Stores for the last 35 years says, “Every monsoon, I incur a huge loss as water that collects on the road enters my store and ends up spoiling all the foodgrains.

Like all grocery shops, mine too has the grains at the entrance. Even though I have a high threshold the water generally rises above that and enters in. Raising the height of the threshold isn’t a good option as many people find it difficult to cross and enter.”

Yogesh Sawant who owns Ramesh Stationery Shop in the area says, “For nine months of the year business booms and people who visit the area frequent my shop. But during the three monsoon months, there is a considerable drop in the number of people who come to my shop. Storing books during the rains becomes troublesome, too. My shop is more than 50 years old; we renovated it, but as the building is old there is a lot of leakage which spoils the books.”

Taking her children to school wading through waterlogged roads has become a nuisance for Radhika Jain who has three children in the primary section. Jain says, “The school bus doesn’t come in so I have to take my children on the main road. When there is waterlogging, the road is a mess. Traffic goes in all directions and this frightens my four-year-old daughter. Sometimes, the water-level is so high that I am afraid my children will drown.”

Saibaba Purohit, 70 who has been living in the area for more than 60 years says, “When it pours, I know without a doubt that the Hindmata area will be flooded. This is a low-lying area and has always been prone to flooding. When I was young I avoided coming home when it rained heavily preferring to stay at a friend’s house at Masjid. Now my sons and grand-children also don’t come home when it rains heavily. It is as though the years have changed but the flooding issue here continues to be the same.”

Nana Chowk, Grant Road
Moving to Grant Road's Nana Chowk area where the waterlogging has caused woes to many here as well. For Arlene D'Souza, a student of Sophia College getting a taxi to college is always an issue due to the waterlogging here.

The 17-year-old says, “I take less time to get from Malad to Grant Road by train but end up wasting most of my time in getting a taxi from here. There is a bus that goes to my college via Haji Ali but it is always crowded and I am mostly running late, so taxi is the best option. Due to a waterlogged Nana Chowk this option ends up being far from ideal when it rains.”

Agreeing with D’Souza, Zainab Khan, her friend says, “Nana Chowk, after three hours of rain gets filled with knee-deep water which makes it difficult to walk. The traffic with cars and bikes splashing water is annoying. Even if I have an umbrella, I still end up getting fully drenched.”

Pandurang Mhaske, a fruit seller in the area says, “Rain water helps the fruits stay fresh but the waterlogging in the area doesn’t help as people avoid coming out. Sometimes, so much water fills up that some of my fruits start floating and people rob them causing huge losses.”

For vegetable vendor, Wasim Jaffer flooding at Nana Chowk means falling ill. The 47-year-old says, “There is always waist-deep water that fills up here and for the past three years I have been suffering from Leptospirosis as the water is infected with rat droppings. There are many rats in the water and their presence makes the waterlogged road more dangerous than it already is. Besides illness, the vegetables rot easily and so I often suffer financial losses, too.”

Sion Circle
A little further on at Sion Circle, which is another place that frequently floods; resident Pooja Gill, 24 says, “I was stuck on my way home on July 26, 2005 when Mumbai faced a deluge.

This flood prone area was bad nine years ago and now also if it rains heavily for five hours, walking is difficult. I remember 26/7, when the floods happened, I could not get home as the Sion area was submerged. I was in junior college at the time and heard that many people fell into manholes, so I stayed at a friend’s house at Matunga.”

Medical store Unnati owned by Sushil Shetty sees a huge rise in people coming to ask for medicines for cold and flu. “The flooding here makes people perpetually suffer from fever and other monsoon related illnesses. Yes, we enjoy good business but even I have to pass through this area and the waterlogging takes a huge toll on my health as well."

Sushil's father Sudhakar B Shetty who ran the chemist before him notes that over the years the flooding situation here has been the same but illnesses are on the rise. The 80-year-old says, “I do not even know what Leptospirosis is. When I ran the chemist store there were no such over the counter medicines and so people always went to doctors first and then came to us for medicines. But now self medication is on the rise.”

Flooded roads have made Om Pratap Singh, 50 avoid Sion Circle when it rains heavily. The Mulund resident who usually takes that road to work says, “Sion Circle being waterlogged causes water to enter my car engine causing it to give problems.

I sometimes feel that rather than taking my car, I should invest in a boat and use that to work during the rains. But jokes aside, this road has been a problem for the last 20 years and more. I agree that this is a low-lying area, but authorities have done very little to improve commuting concerns.”

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