Manic Monday in Mumbai after first monsoon showers

Jun 21, 2016, 07:30 IST | Shashank Rao, Ranjeet Jadhav and Tanvi Deshpande

All it took was one day of moderate showers to wreak havoc on the city — trains and traffic came to a halt, trees and building slabs fell on people and several areas witnessed water-logging

It was a rough start to the week for Mumbaikars yesterday after the very first day of the monsoon brought the city to its knees. Everything that could have gone wrong, did.

Thanks to the rains, traffic moves at a sluggish pace on this road in Sion. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Thanks to the rains, traffic moves at a sluggish pace on this road in Sion. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

The entire Western Railway came to a standstill forcing commuters to jump on the tracks and travel by road instead, only to find that both the Western and Eastern Express Highways were chock-a-block with traffic. Two people lost their lives and several others were injured due to falling trees and slabs, while low-lying areas such as Hindmata experienced water-logging for the second day in a row. What’s worse, after wreaking all this havoc, the rains made no difference to the water levels in the city’s lakes, so our water woes are from over.

Western Railway paralysed
At 11.18 am, every single train on the Western Railway (WR) came to a halt. The WR has been struggling with technical glitches for a while, but the rainfall led to a major fault in the overhead cables that supply power to the trains, leading to the entire system being paralysed.

Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Trains stopped on both slow and fast lines both towards Churchgate and towards the Borivli end from Dadar. Peak hours were still on and thousands of people were stranded at railway stations and inside trains, with many forced to jump on the tracks and walk out. In all, about 90 services had to be cancelled.

Services resumed around 12.20 pm, when the power supply was restored and all train services were restarted, but more than 100 trains were delayed by more than 15 minutes.

WR blames stolen batteries at Mahim for mess
Several people took to social media to troll Western Railway, mocking it for being so badly prepared for the monsoon. However, WR denied that the power failure was caused by the rains and instead blamed it on the theft of batteries from the Mahim sub-station, from where the power is supplied to the overhead cables. This substation falls between the intersection of Bandra-Churchgate Main line of WR and Bandra-CST Harbour line.

“We saw that the lock was open and it seemed as if someone had cut open the latch to open the steel door. Even the fence was breached on one side,” said a senior WR official. Sources claimed that they also found tyre marks right at the gate and in all, 18 batteries were stolen. However, sources said that the theft of these batteries was not responsible for the power outage, since they are only a back-up for when the main electrical system fails.

Moreover, it is unlikely that the batteries were stolen at the time of the power failure since each of them weighs 30 kg, and it would have been difficult to carry out 18 such batteries in broad daylight. Each of the batteries was of 120AH capacity and the total cost of 18 of them is about Rs 50,000 or so. Officials think there must have been at least 3-4 people involved in stealing the bulky batteries. “We are looking at the possibility of an insider’s role in the theft,” added an official from the Railway Police Force.

“The battery boxes are mainly used for the backup and charging purpose after minor tripping or fluctuation in OHE power supply. A case of theft of 18 batteries has been registered by RPF in this regard and the investigation is on,” said Ravindra Bhakar, chief PRO, Western Railway.

WR filed a complaint at the Shahu Nagar police station against unknown person for stealing 18 batteries and 6 cables from the Mahim sub-station for trespassing and house-breaking. The matter is also being probed by the Railway protection Force (RPF).

“An FIR has been registered with the Shahu Nagar police station after the substation engineer found that the batteries and cables were stolen from the substation, leading to power supply failure from 11:18 am,” said DCP Deepak Devraj of Western railway.

— Input by Asif Rizvi

Chock-a-block traffic
After WR came to a halt, several commuters decided to travel by road instead. To compensate for the disruption in train services, the BEST Undertaking operated 35 extra buses on 11 different routes.

Pic/Datta Kumbhar

But even on the Western Express Highway, traffic had been slowed down by the rainfall, and the influx of rail commuters only worsened matters. Between 10.30 am and 11.45 am, traffic crawled on the highway but managed to clear up by noon. Meanwhile, on the Eastern Express Highway, traffic on the south-bound arm was paralysed for an hour, between 11.30 and 12.30 pm, after two speeding cars collided with each other near Wadala. Fortunately, no one was injured.

1 killed in slab collapse; tree fall injures 4
A 25 year-old man lost his life after a part of a slab collapsed on him at 4.50 am at Kalbadevi yesterday. Though Anurag Sathe was rushed to the GT Hospital, he was declared dead on arrival.

Also, four people sustained injuries after a tree collapsed on a few nearby shanties in Ghatkopar. The injured were identified as Roshan Prajapati (19), Pradeep Gajarajan Tiwar (18), Nita Gajarajan Tiwar (20) and Abhay Saleem Khan (37).

They were rushed to Rajawadi Hospital and discharged after the first line of treatment. “None of them sustained major injuries. Hence, they were discharged,” said Medical Superintendent Dr Vidya Thakur.

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