Mumbai under water
On 29th August, India’s commercial capital, the city of glamour, Mumbai went under water after a few hours of torrential rain. Mumbai’s Santa Cruz IMD observatory registered 331.4 mm rainfall on Tuesday which was the heaviest since July 26, 2005, the day when Mumbai witnessed the deadliest of the floods which claimed hundreds of lives.
Thane city received 247 mm rainfall on the same day, while the rainfall recorded in Palghar was 280 mm, it added.
Mumbaikars were caught largely unguarded as the sky opened up early morning on Tuesday. It looked like another normal rainy day in monsoon months. Till early afternoon, mostly unaware, common men continued with their daily routines. It was around 2:00 p.m. by when people started taking notice of the unusually long and heavy spell of rain which had started flooding the streets and the lanes.
HR departments of many companies started circulating permissions to leave office early and many of the office-goers had started leaving for homes anticipating the worst. As the high-tide at around 4:50 pm coincided with extremely heavy rainfall the drainage system of the city gave up completely.
Next two hours were complete mayhem on the streets of Mumbai. Most roads were under knee-deep water, public transportation systems were interrupted especially local train networks. Lakhs of commuters got stuck for hours together, many of them walked down to their destinations in heavy rains and strong wind.
Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, was totally submerged in water and in agony!
An isolated case?
Though Tuesday’s deluge was an uncommon incident with very heavy rainfall coincided with high-tide, this was not unseen or unheard in India. Almost every year we see one of the Indian cities going under water with citizens struggling to keep floating. At recent times, first Bengaluru, then Chandigarh, and now Mumbai –three Indian cities have suffered greatly. The common thread in all three cases has been a faulty urban planning. When Delhi hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010, a heavy spell of rain was enough to throw the national capital into total chaos.
Another alarming fact is our cities have miserably failed in protecting the water bodies which could have absorbed or drained out water in case of very heavy rainfall. The major water bodies have been encroached upon or reclaimed by countless unplanned and/or illegal developments. The few which are remaining have practically turned into garbage dumps. When it rains like this those garbage takes no time to chock the entire drainage system of the city causing overflowing and flooding of the roads.
Acres of meadows and marshlands are now shrunk to much smaller their sizes. These valuable natural assets are rampantly being used to dump waste or they are transforming into real estate developments.
Due to the unbridled and random urbanization, our cities are gasping for respite. When our cities were planned natural drainage or the slope of a city was never kept in mind. Re-laying of roads as per the natural drainage patterns is a logical way out while new constructions must be carried out in accordance.
Water harvesting in lakes and ponds is a time-tested solution to avoid floods within cities and also to quench the thirst of our water-starved cities. Rain water harvesting can primarily be done by individual housing societies but more initiatives from the administration are required.
Another sincere effort that the concerned authorities should immediately look into is clearing of the drainage system.
Not just the authorities
We waste no time to blame the government and the authorities when there is a flood in the city. But, we also tend to forget many important things when the sun shines next morning. How many of us have sincerely taken up the issues of rain water harvesting in our respective societies, have we stopped uses of plastic bags which are the main reason to chock up our drains – are the questions we should ask ourselves.
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