Along with fervently awaiting the arrival of monsoon, Mumbaikars are concurrently waiting for the blockage of ‘locals’ due to expected heavy rainfalls this season though being late.
Mumbai generally has humid and muggy weather, which is influenced by its proximity to Arabian Sea. This nearness is the main reason for ups and downs of the temperature. The monsoon months of June to September records the total rainfall of 1800 mm in the metropolis. The temperature during these days remains around 20 degrees Celsius, which is soothing but weather is humid as the moisture can be felt in the air. The winds from the western side are the most noticeable feature of Mumbai monsoons. At present with the arrival of monsoon 2016, all the three Indian seas including the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea have become turbulent, giving rise to several weather systems.
Water-logging is a major concern in the city. Last monsoon, heavy and continuous rains had lashed Mumbai leading to water-logging and affecting rail services in several parts of the city. Schools had remained closed due to heavy showers. The Mumbai University had also postponed all theory and practical examinations. Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association had claimed that there had been an INR 500-crore loss to businesses during the day as most shops in the city were shut, as only about a fifth of the staff had turned up and there were no customers. About 80 per cent of the shops downed shutters within a few hours. There had been many complaints of flooding of shops in low lying areas of Parel, Dadar, Nana Chowk and Grant Road.
Suburban trains, metaphorically the ‘Lifeline of Mumbai’, are no exception to this. Train services gets affected due to rains with many of them running late by 20-25 minutes in both Western and Central lines.
What’s even more unfortunate, however, is the fact that city’s waterlogging woes are here to stay. A tragedy like this could happen again under a similar situation a few years later, unless we change the way we plan the city, and acknowledge the fact that we are at fault. Waterlogging issue is now on the brink of being beyond redemption and is a man-made disaster. Unplanned urban development and unwieldy growth with no hydrological plan is the reason. It is serious interference with nature. The natural drainage systems are all gone. Further, even as new areas are being developed, they are not being done so holistically. Where will the water go if there are no storm-water drains? Roads and drains cannot be considered different aspects of planning and infrastructure development. And yet that is precisely what is been done. The city needs a separate agency which can plan, control and implement storm water drain projects responsibilities. Beyond all of this, there is one thing we cannot do without – accepting that this is a man-made problem.
Being as new as a day in the city of dreams, hope monsoon brings pleasant weather conditions and relief to people throughout the season instead of uncalled-for troubles.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)