The unremitting rains on June 15 and 16 led to severe waterlogging and prolonged power outage in the island city. But when residents called up the helpline number of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) to find out what the problem was, they met with no response. They claimed no one picked up the helpline number 22843939. In fact, calls made to the electricity supply undertaking’s power control room by BEST committee members themselves who represent various political parties also went unanswered.
Mumbai saw torrential rains last weekend, which flooded many areas in south Mumbai, namely Hindmata, Parel, Chor Bazaar, Pydhonie, Dongri, Chinchpokli and other low-lying regions. Due to this, there were power cuts in these areas that extended to over 10 hours at some locations. BEST committee member Yakub Menon said, “There were power outages for nearly 8-12 hours. People were frantically calling the BEST’s helpline but there was no response. The situation was the same even when I called the number.”
Menon claimed that he made over 10-15 calls which went unanswered. Meanwhile, since morning until late evening, he was flooded by a slew of calls from locals from Byculla and neighbouring areas. He claimed that after 9 pm, he had to make a call to senior officials from the power and transport undertaking to check the status. “Finally I got calls from the local customer centre, asking for our location. They stated there were several complaints so the rectification was taking time,” Menon added. There were issues with the transformers and underground power lines that led to the outage.
BEST chairman Sanjay Ambole also said he received several complaints about power failures. “I received over 150 complaints from people and when I tried calling on the helpline no one picked up,” said Ambole. BEST officials claim that due to the spate, water seeped through the potholed road and affected the cable lines, which are laid at least 3-4 feet below.
“We didn’t expect the rains to arrive this early, going by last year’s record. This (not answering the helpline number) shouldn’t have happened and I will look into the reasons behind it,” said OP Gupta, general manager, BEST. Sources said many might not know the helpline number. Also the meter boxes were drenched due to the waterlogging, making it difficult to repair faults. Officials added that as a preventive measure they had to cut power lines at many locations across island city to avoid electrocution.