Vritti Issar, Times Now, 28 June 2017
The monsoons are finally here to give our parched city some much-needed respite, and this year the rain gods have descended upon this city with all their might.
Mumbai that was once known for the financial, commercial or entertainment opportunities it offers, has steadily become more popular for its waterlogging issues over the years. And the city still seems frightfully unprepared for the monsoon season, for the umpteenth year in a row.
Since Monday night, heavy rains have drowned this beach town, leading to waterlogging in a few low-lying areas, subsequently disrupting its lifeline, the rail networks in the Central and Harbour lines. It has rained properly for exactly three days and we’re already gasping for breath.
But the common Mumbaikar’s woes have only just begun because the Meteorological department has promised heavy rains in the days to come.
You would think that continuous years of heavy downpours and the problems it brings would teach the BMC to prepare much in advance, but that does not seem to be the case here.
Has Mumbai accepted its fate as the waterlogged capital of the country? Why can we not survive a monsoon season without drowning, or worse, getting stuck without transport trying to wade through a pool the size of Powai lake?
There are several factors that cause a flood-like situation in Mumbai every year- a highly insufficient drainage system, ungated spillways at the Powai, Tulsi and Vihar lakes, and loss of mangrove ecosystems to encroachment, sewage, and garbage dumps, as well as to builders who reclaim that land for construction.
Mumbai lost about 40% of its mangroves till 2005 alone, but there is another reason why that year has been a significant part of the city’s history.
July 26, 2005: An unprepared Mumbai suffers a Titanic moment
A massive storm struck the city that led to the low-lying areas, such as the Bandra-Kurla complex and Dharavi area, to get submerged almost completely. The was a massive deluge that claimed many lives and the city came to a complete stand-still for the next three days. Even during this crisis, it was not the BMC but the citizens of Mumbai that came to the aid of stranded city folk.
With deadlines missed, will Mumbai witness a repeat performance?
On Monday, the total quantity of water in all the lakes was 3.48 lakh million litres, which is 25 lakh million litres more than what was recorded on June 26, 2017. Although this means that Mumbai will hopefully not face any water shortage for the rest of the year, the city’s capability to handle any excess rain is still in doubt.
According to reports, authorities across the city have missed their deadlines of constructing proper drainage facilities or elevating certain areas to avoid flooding. This now seems like an invitation for doom, as the rains are here and they are already hitting us hard.
The situation, though not evenly bad across the city, has already begun to cause immense trouble to the people in the suburbs and low -lying areas which have a tendency to flood in the blink of an eye.
So unless you’re fortunate enough to not need the bus or train network daily (which would mean you are rich, or lucky, or both), what can you, as a person who regularly uses public transport, do about the situation?
Well, buy a boat, or an easier option would be to unite and raise your voices against the misgovernance.