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Mumbai Monsoon
Jun 07, 2006 07:16 PM 12203 Views

One more disaster in the making


A monsoon is just around the corner and the people of Mumbai are holding their breath to see if they are going to witness another episode of last year's July 26 deluge.


On that ill-fated day, Mumbai recorded its highest rainfall of 900 millimeters, turning the whole city into one big swimming pool. It was a cloud burst of a kind never witnessed before as the city was lashed with torrential rain and gusty winds.


Normal life was disrupted bringing the city to virtual standstill. Thousands of cars were submerged in the flood water with passengers trapped inside and some found dead later. The life line of the city, the rail and bus service, remained paralyzed for two days. The commuters were holed up in buses and trains the whole night without any food and water. Some the office workers who left their offices early sought shelter at a friend's house and the not-so-lucky ones had to spend night out in the rain.


Most parts of the city was plunged in darkness as power substations were shut off to avoid electrocution. The outcome of the nature's fury resulted in the death of about 400 people; thousands of cars submerged in the flood water were rendered useless; many trees were dislodged; and roads were ravaged with potholes. The government and the Mumbai municipality came under severe criticism and were held responsible for aggravating the situation for not issuing any prior warning of the deluge, no disaster management plan was in place and above all the rescue operation failed to contain the high death toll. Subsequent rainfall brought about fear of another monsoon.


After the government's failure last year to tackle the flood situation, Mumbai residents had expected that the government had learned their lesson and hence would take adequate precaution this year before the onset of another monsoon. But the government's lackadaisical attitude in undertaking desilting of nullas (gutter), removal of slums located above the sewage drains and widening the mouth of city's only river Mithi, worries people living in Mumbai.


The city appears like a war zone with roads dug up, leaving stretches of narrow pits on either side of the road and heaps of rubble and sand lying strewn, as the relaying of roads carry on unabatedly. While dark clouds loom over the city, the people keep their finger crossed, hoping that during the coming monsoon the rain god spares the city of yet an another July 26 deluge.


Rajen nair


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