Mumbai gets quarter of its total rainfall in three days

City limps back to normalcy after receiving 500mm of rainfall.


Nithin Belle

Published: Sun 21 Jun 2015, 11:10 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Mumbai: While heavy rains continued to lash Mumbai and the suburbs on Saturday, the metropolis slowly limped back to normalcy with trains back on the tracks, a day after life was paralysed following heavy downpour.

Both Central and Western railways claimed that suburban services functioned normally on Saturday, as rainwater, which had submerged the tracks on Friday, had been drained out. But thanks to the weekend, trains were not over-crowded.

Rainwater had also receded from most of the low-lying areas in central and western Mumbai, though authorities warned that if heavy rains lashed the city and high tide levels remained above the 4m levels, there could be problems in many localities.

The Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), which has been squandering billions of taxpayer rupees on projects to repair the drainage and road infrastructure, helplessly pleaded with citizens not to venture out. The civic body, which is India’s richest, has been controlled by the Shiv Sena for several years.

Critics accuse the civic body of being a cesspool of corruption, where multi-billion-rupee contracts are handed out to select contractors, who execute projects without much supervision and get their bills passed in no time.

For instance, over the past decade, the BMC has spent more than Rs40 billion to upgrade the stormwater drain system, but the very first heavy showers of the season saw the infrastructure crumble. Just last week, the BMC inaugurated two pumping stations at Worli — out of the eight that were supposed to have come up after the 2005 floods — and had promised that the city would not see much flooding.

But the pumping stations, built at a cost of Rs2 billion failed to function resulting in inundation of low-lying areas in central Mumbai. When confronted with the ineffectiveness of the projects — including stormwater drains and roads and flyovers — Sena politicians and the civic administration claim that the infrastructure cannot handle excessive rainfall.

Every time the city gets flooded and the civic infrastructure crumbles, the BMC and its corporators behave as if it was the first time that Mumbai received such heavy rainfall. However, the fact is Mumbai — and the entire 2,000-km-long coastal belt from Mumbai to Thiruvananthapuram — receive between 2,000mm and 3,000mm of rainfall during the four-month rainy season. And this has been happening for centuries, and should not surprise the civic body and its experts. There are many roads in south Mumbai — especially in areas where ministers and senior politicians live — where the surface does not crack even after four months of heavy rainfall. But in the suburbs and other less fortunate parts of the metropolis, a few days of heavy showers are enough to cause craters on roads and highways.

On Friday, Mumbai and its suburbs got about 300mm of rainfall. Saturday saw about 200mm of rainfall. The past three to four days have seen Mumbai get nearly a quarter of its total rainfall of the season.

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