Millions face hardship as rain hits trains, roads in Mumbai

Mumbai has not seen the kind of rainfall that it witnessed during the first 10 days of the current season in nearly 45 years.


Nithin Belle

Published: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 12:44 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:59 PM

Mumbai — When the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) came out with a revised forecast for the south-west monsoon and claimed this year would see ‘deficient’ rainfall, perhaps the local authorities here took the prediction too seriously.

Mumbai has not seen the kind of rainfall that it witnessed during the first 10 days of the current season in nearly 45 years. According to Skymet Meteorology, a private weather forecaster — whose predictions have been proved right on many occasions, in contrast with government agency IMD’s, which have been totally off the mark — Mumbai has recorded 1,040 mm of rain so far in June.

The last time it rained so heavily in Mumbai was in 1971, when 1,037.1 mm of rainfall was recorded in the first month of the rainy season. And June is still not over, with predictions of heavy to very heavy rains over Mumbai for the next few days.

But the authorities — including the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), the state government and the railways — have as usual been caught napping, and worse, unprepared for the deluge. On Tuesday, millions of commuters had to suffer once again because of the lack of preparedness of the various government agencies, which disrupted rail and road traffic.

Last Friday, the city of 15 million people was crippled and the authorities had to plead with residents to stay indoors because of heavy rains. But Mumbai and the entire coastal belt of western India witnesses heavy showers during June and July. The BMC, one of the richest — and also one of the most corrupt — civic bodies in India, had spent more than Rs20 billion on upgrading the storm-water drainage system in the metropolis in recent years, but all that money got washed down with the first heavy showers.

Skymet and IMD have predicted further intensification of the monsoon following a depressioin over the north-east Arabian sea, which is expected to move closer to the Gujarat coast. Since Friday, Mumbai has received almost 800 mm of rainfall.

On Tuesday, millions of Mumbai commuters — especially those travelling on suburban trains had a harrowing time because of water-logging, disruption of train services, traffic snarls and power cuts. Services on the Central Railway (main line) were suspended early morning after an overhead tension wire snapped at Dadar station.

Heavy rains in the morning led to water-logging in the usual localities — Byculla, Lalbaug, Parel, Dadar, King’s Circle, Sion, Matunga, Mahim, Bandra, Kurla, Andheri, Jogeshwari and other suburbs. Morning peak-hour traffic crawled at a snails’ pace and frustrated commuters had to spend hours on the road.

Those venturing out of the city towards Pune also suffered because of landslides near Khandala that had blocked the Mumbai-Pune expressway since Monday. Traffic had to be diverted to the old Bombay-Poona highway, and motorists took five to six hours to traverse the 150-km-long distance.

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