Mumbai fails monsoon test again!

Jun 10, 2013, 08:22 IST | Mehul Thakkar, Iram Siddique and Neha Tripathi

The expected casualties were reported within hours of the season's first heavy downpour waterlogged roads, uprooted trees, disrupted transportation

BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said that the people of Mumbai had been fooled, when asked why his departments and other agencies had promised that they had made the city ready for the rains; the city’s first heavy showers yesterday clearly proved otherwise.

The city was brimming with confidence as it prayed in unison for the first showers, assured by insistent claims of agencies like BMC, MMRDA, PWD and Railways that the roads and services were fighting fit for the monsoon. Yesterday, just 98 mm of rainfall washed away all traces of that misplaced confidence, as the downpour laid bare the city’s absolute lack of readiness for the deluge.

Yesterday, just 98 mm of rainfall laid bare the city’s absolute lack of readiness for the monsoon. Pic/Satyajit Desai

While Mumbai has been enjoying light drizzles over the past few days, the monsoons made a grand entry yesterday, with thunder and lightning accompanying incessant, heavy downpour. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Mumbai, Colaba received 39.3 mm of rainfall, while Santacruz received 98 mm. While the maximum temperature in these areas dipped to 31 degree Celsius and 32.3 degrees Celsius respectively, the relative humidity was high at around 98 per cent.

The roads were the first casualties. Within a few hours of the showers, waterlogging was reported in low-lying pockets of the city, especially in the western suburbs. There was flooding at the Milan Subway, where high-capacity pumps were used to remove the water. Stretches of the Western Express Highway (WEH), Eastern Express Highway (EEH), Dahisar Subway, Marve Road, Andheri Chakala Road were submerged. Traffic was slow moving on these stretches. Waterlogging was also reported at Hindmata in Parel.

Pic/Rane Ashish

“The claims of the BMC have been washed away with merely two days of rainfall. All the precautionary measures undertaken by the BMC to ensure hassle-free monsoons hardly seem to be effective. The problems that the Mumbaikars are facing are a slap in the face of the authorities, who claimed that they had made the city ready for the monsoons,” said Jasbeer Sanyal, a resident of a western suburb.

Tree trouble
It is customary every year for the BMC to prune or fell weakened trees. However, this practice hasn’t helped at all this year. The disaster control management authority, when contacted around 6 pm, reported that 78 trees were reported to have fallen in different parts of the city. The same officials at 7 pm revised the figure to 30 trees.

Not the BEST
Bus routes were the first to be sacrificed to the rains. “Due to heavy downpour in central Mumbai, the BEST buses plying on Dr Ambedkar Road between 5.45 am and 11am had to be diverted via Sewri and Dadar TT flyover, to avoid waterlogged areas. In the western suburbs, BEST buses were diverted from Malad Subway via SV Road. A bus got stuck in the subway, leading to traffic congestion. Buses like 345, 281, 460 were diverted and were running via the SV Road,” said V Bagul, public relations officer for BEST.

Slow, cancelled trains
Trains services were also disrupted, though not suspended. Central Railway PRO A K Singh, admitted to problems, saying, “Trains were delayed by 40-45 minutes due to problems in the signals. Twenty one trains were cancelled due the rains in the city. However, we had eight special trains running from CST to Panvel via Thane. There was no waterlogging on the tracks.” Sharat Chandrayan, chief PR officer for Western Railways, said, “The trains were running 5-10 minutes late, but on the day of mega-block, trains are expected to run 10 minutes late. Rains as such did not affect the services.”

Public ‘fooled’
BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said, “We received complaints of flooding from 53 roads, which the respective ward officers are taking care of. We have installed 220 pumps in the low-lying areas to avoid waterlogging.” Asked why the same of problems had resurfaced, he said, “We always try our level best so that the people are not inconvenienced, but the situation depends upon the intensity of the rains and tidal action. The highest tide was observed at 1 pm today, measuring 4.23 metres.

We cannot accurately predict nature. So if the people are being promised by any department that they have total control over potential situations, then they are simply being fooled.” MMRDA humbly admitted to inadequacies. Metropolitan Commissioner UPS Madan said, “It is true that there are potholes on the roads that are under the maintenance of the MMRDA. We have already taken temporary measures for the monsoon, so the people don’t face any problems.”

Weather forecast
“The total rainfall in Mumbai since June 1 stands at 121.2 mm in Colaba and 119.8 mm in Santacruz. The skies will remain generally cloudy. Rain and thundershowers will occur in the city and suburbs; a few heavy spells are expected for the next 48 hours,” said an official from the India Metrological Department (IMD).

98 mm
Rainfall in Santacruz

39 mm
Rainfall in Colaba

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