Day 1 - May 31, 2006
There was a general perception that after 26/7 debacle, the BMC and Railways are better prepared this time to deal with the rains. But this proved to be entirely wrong. On the first day itself, the life is thrown out of track. The entire system came to a standstill, or close to it. Snarl-ups were everywhere. Most of the arterial roads witnessed chock-a-block traffic. Water-logging in various places made movement difficult, if not impossible. The tall claims of the CM and BMC authorities were proved to be entirely fictitious. Or relied on statements, not on facts. If the drains and Nallahs are cleaned properly, how could this happen? The ironic thing is, the BMC head quarters was under knee deep water. And the recently inagurated, with much fanfare, control room was out of power.
For the railway commuters, the first day brought back memories of 26/7. inundated tracks made trains delay as much as three hours late in Central Railway. One of my colleague caught the train from CST at 6:37 and she reached Vidhya Vihar by 9:45. Otherwise a 45 minute commute. So much for the precautions. At Sion, where tracks are a low level, water rose to inches below the platform.
Harbour & Western Railways claim to have less impact and their schedule is only 45 Minutes. but in reality, Western Railway is as much hit as central. Those who got into the 7:59 reached Virar by 10:45. Normally a 1:25 minute journey took them almost three hours.
The irritating thing is, even though most of the trains are equipped with a one-way radio, ther was no announcement in the train. All the windows were shut, the heat emanating from ever growing crowd, life was hell inside the compartments. People had to stay in this unbearably humid conditions for long while without having a clue as to when the train will move or why they are being held-up. When are the motormen and railways going to learn some Public Relation excersizes?
To sum up, the unexpected heavy rains in the beginning itself caught everyone off-guard. It was testing times for the average mumbaikar who had to suffer the most. Coming days will bring respite or make the situation worse is yet to be seen.