Downpour cripples city, cancels disaster meeting

Jun 11, 2013, 07:16 IST | Shashank Rao

Authorities of Central Railway, Western Railway, BMC and other agencies were so busy tackling problems that had cropped up during the heavy showers yesterday that they could not manage to meet up and discuss new ways to deal with the city's monsoon woes

The downpour yesterday not only crippled the city, but also aborted an important meeting between the officials of Central Railway (CR), Western Railway (WR), BMC and other agencies related to disaster management. The meeting, scheduled for 12 pm yesterday, was called for brainstorming on issues like waterlogging, transportation failure, dispersal of people, public announcements, and other problems faced by the city every monsoon.

Apart from keeping the agencies busy holding their respective forts, the downpour exposed the loopholes in the city’s preparations for the rains, which the authorities had claimed were up to the mark. Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said, “A meeting with the railway authorities was cancelled after Hindamata got waterlogged, despite receiving moderate rainfall since Sunday. Fixing that problem was our top priority.”

Utter chaos
Traffic was thrown out of gear at several areas in the city and suburbs, mainly in Bhoiwada, Dadar, Parel, Matunga, Mahim, Andheri, Versova, Marol-Saki Naka, Malad, Chembur and LBS Marg. Train services on the Western and the Central line took a beating. “While numerous services were cancelled, several were running late by almost an hour, inconveniencing commuters greatly,” said Madhu Kotian, a member of Mumbai Railway Pravasi Sangh.

Bumper to bumper traffic on the Hindmata flyover. Pic/Shadab Khan

A CR official confirmed that services at several stations were affected due to waterlogging, as lack of space prevented the accumulated water from receding. Sources claimed that debris from nearby construction sites swept onto the tracks at Thane and Bhandup and a choked culvert at Vikhroli led to waterlogging on the tracks. Stations like Thane, Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Kurla and Sion on the Central line were hit hard. Though sources claimed that CR officials cancelled about 15 trains, officials said the number of services called off was much less. Each train runs 12 services a day, thus taking the tally of overall service cancellation for yesterday to about 180 services.

“We cancelled 117 services till 5 pm. There was waterlogging at Kalyan and Bhandup from 6 am to 9 am, which resulted in bunching of trains. There was also point failure at Thane between 1.05 pm and 2.05 pm,” said a CR spokesperson. While the situation on the Central line remained chaotic until the downpour ceased, the WR fared a tad better due to its geographical profile. WR officials said since stations on this line are on a much higher gradient than the stations on CR, it prevented waterlogging at most of the stations.

“We did everything possible to clear the drains and keep the services running,” said S Silas, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai) for WR. Despite their best efforts, waterlogging was reported from stretches at Mahim, Bandra, and Andheri. This resulted in slow down of services. In addition, technical failure was experienced at Andheri from 8 am to 8.35 am. The situation was further aggravated in the afternoon after the level crossing gate between Andheri and Jogeshwari got jammed. While 71 trains were running behind schedule, 15 services were cancelled.

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