Rain brings Mumbai to a halt, rescue teams deployed

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LENDING A HAND: Rescue workers assisting pedestrians to negotiate flood waters in north Mumbai.
LENDING A HAND: Rescue workers assisting pedestrians to negotiate flood waters in north Mumbai.

Mumbai Bureau

South Mumbai receives more rain, arterial roads clogged, power supply shut down, suburban rail services affected

South Mumbai receives more rainPower supply shut down, telecom services affectedRescue teams deployed in various parts of city

MUMBAI: India's commercial capital virtually ground to a halt on Tuesday morning after four days of incessant rain. The suburban rail network slowed down and stopped, the airport was affected and several important arterial roads were waterlogged. The squally weather in the early hours of Tuesday morning, following heavy showers on Monday, led to further flooding of areas already affected and submerged many more.

Memories of deluge

Memories of the deluge on July 26, 2005, when an unprecedented 944 mm of rain fell in suburban Mumbai leading to devastating floods, made most people in the city err on the side of caution. As a result, schools and colleges were closed and many office-goers chose to remain home rather than venture out through flooded streets.

Unlike last year, this time South Mumbai received more rain. The Meteorological Department recorded 162.5 mm rainfall in Colaba from 8.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 158.0 mm in Santa Cruz over the same period. The total rainfall in 24 hours from 8.30 a.m. on Monday to 8.30 a.m. Tuesday was 121.9 mm at Colaba and 152.0 mm at Santacruz. However, towards the evening while the rain let up a little in south Mumbai, it continued to pour in the suburbs. The forecast for Wednesday is more rain with several heavy to very heavy spells. The local suburban trains ran fitfully until 10 a.m. before the Central and Harbour line were closed. By evening some of these services resumed but only from Dadar in central Mumbai. There were no trains running between Dadar and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai. The Western Railway continued to function but slowly as tracks were flooded in several sectors.

The worst affected were the northern suburbs of Goregaon west, Kalina, Kurla and parts of Khar, Santacruz and Andheri. Unlike last year, the Western Express Highway, which had witnessed a traffic jam that could not be cleared for 48 hours, remained relatively unaffected. Traffic continued to flow on this vital link between the south and north of the city. This was mostly due to the fact that people kept off the road and heeded warnings sent out by the municipal corporation and the police.

Mumbai airport was also partially affected by the heavy rains on Tuesday. Airport Director R.J. Treasurywalla told The Hindu that the runways at the airport were normal and that different airlines had taken their own decisions whether to operate flights. He said that between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., three flights were diverted and there was a delay of up to one hour for outgoing flights. However, a spokesperson for Kingfisher Airlines said that one of the runways was closed for 40 minutes around 12.45 p.m. and that their airline had cancelled two flights.

Several parts of the suburbs experienced power shut downs. Reliance Energy Limited, which supplies power to suburban Mumbai, said that it had resorted to shutdowns in several areas for reasons of safety. South Mumbai did not suffer any.

Many residential buildings and compounds throughout the city suffered, as residents were marooned and forced to shut off their power supply for safety reasons. Telecom services were also affected in many parts. With no power and no cable television, people had little information about the situation in the rest of the city. Despite the municipal corporation having set up help-lines and a special disaster control room, residents complained that they could not reach any of the numbers for help.

A Municipal officer admitted to The Hindu , that all the work that needed to be done before the monsoon, such as cleaning the drains and completing road works, had not been done. "Wherever the BMC removed the garbage, they did not lift it. So the garbage went back into the drains resulting in water-logging," he said.

The police said rescue teams were deployed in different parts of the city and no untoward incident had been reported. Around 3,200 people had to be shifted from two areas in the suburbs to safer areas, said the spokesperson of the Municipal Corporation.



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