An audit published in this newspaper on June 9 showed that six months and Rs. 440 crore of repair work later, still Mumbai was not monsoon-ready. Roadworks were not completed and nullahs not cleaned. The project is still in a state of delay. Every year, it is becoming increasingly clear that Mumbai cannot cope with itself. But the warning signs were evident even then. Potholes had begun to appear more prolifically in the monsoon and every year they grew in number and size. Like most warning signs, these were ignored too.
We, Mumbaikars have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with the city’s monsoon season. We love watching drops of water pitter-patting on roofs while sipping hot chai from the cool confines of our homes. But when it comes to commuting or going out on urgent assignments we curse the rain gods, once we’re out and making our way to work. We’re indeed in a dual relationship with the rains.
One more monsoon shower, one more set of problems, if you gather from newspapers about the impact of the rains in Mumbai. What angers is that no matter what happens, no matter how people vote or don’t vote in municipal elections, no matter which party or which combination is in power — though in this case the same lot has been in control for ages — when it rains, Mumbai stutters and grieves. Mumbai was promised a “flood-free” monsoon this year. But last Monday’s rains had put various parts of the city out of gear, from south Mumbai to the suburbs, from the usual low lying areas like Hindmata to Khar and beyond. Excuses of late permissions for cutting mangroves to pumps not working are flying around. Notices have been issued to BMC engineers responsible. But the malaise and apathy go deeper, as we well know.
Schools, colleges, institutions and homes did what they could to withstand the fury of the rains, as did families and individuals. For instance, buying a pair of gum boots was a mandatory exercise. Roads were also regularly under scrutiny of the BMC. Minor repairs – inevitable every year – would be carried out without fuss. Major ones would be identified early and the road would have been restored well in advance. Mumbai’s ‘curse of potholes’, as we know it now, is a phenomenon of the past 20-odd years — and worsening with every passing year, particularly since the turn of the century. Forget gum boots, now even outer space survival kits would be inadequate, so deep, wide and menacing potholes have become. Vehicles don’t complain, but their plight surely can’t be better. With no end in sight to the problem, people are losing patience, more so as the demand for better-quality living standards grows with rising incomes and awareness.
When all hopes splashed in Mumbai rains, the city is bracing for what weather officials believe could be the heaviest and longest bout of rain since July 26, 2005, when the city was paralysed by floods. It has been raining non-stop since morning and if it lingers till high tide, the India’s commercial capital could be in for another dismay of flooding, traffic jams and long hours on the roads. As per the Regional meteorological centre, Mumbai, the city will experience broken rain with heavy to very heavy rain fall in a few places in the city and suburbs over the next 24 hours. The monsoon, which made a disappearing act of sorts after its official arrival date on June 12, returned on Saturday to give the city its heaviest rains this season. The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Regional Meteorological Centre said the rains which lashed the city through the intermittent night of Saturday and Sunday was due to a cyclonic circulation and an extended region of relatively low atmospheric pressure. The much awaited Monsoon is here in the city! The so called season of Love, happiness and joy has finally arrived. No doubt everyone desperately waited for monsoon after the scorching heat of summer began to kill them. But is this monsoon definitely not as it was promised to me, flood free.
The very first day of monsoon Mumbai was flooded with water along with happiness and sorrows. The first day of heavy rains exposed the civic body’s poor monsoon preparation and as the time passed it’s been second month and rains made this city bad to worst. Along with waterlogging there were issues of collapsing trees too. Local trains were running late, eventually disrupting daily commuter’s routine. There were traffic snarls, Mumbai struggled in waist-deep water. Citizens have been advised to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.
If we Mumbaikars have chosen to live with this monsoon routine, and authorities fail us every year then it’s better to protect ourselves by staying safe. Let any political party take over BMC the fate of Mumbai will remain the same. Stay harmless dear Mumbai Manoos.
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