Another deluge hit the city. It was almost like 26/7. Well, almost. The major difference is while 26/7 witnessed an unprecedented 900 plus mm of rainfall, the last few days saw only 250mm at maximum. But the effect was near total. Water-logged roads & railway tracks, lost productivity, attendance of office dropped to a mere 50% on Wednesday. So what had changed since 26/7? Mumbai is famous for its undying spirit, the resilience, and its vibrant nature. But how long it can survive just on reputation? The infrastructure is creaking under the burden. A collapse in inevitable. Did we witness a trial run of that collapse? Was this a precursor of what is to come?
A couple of years back, on a rainy day, I set out for my office. From Vasai to Bandra the local train ran without any incident, though slower than normal. At Bandra it stopped and the Public address system was announcing the submerging of tracks and how trains can’t move ahead. Me & my friends caught a cab from there and reached my office 1 hour 30 minutes late. In the meantime, we never thought of going back home and we knew we will go back in the evening when the water level subsides. But this time around, we were glued to the office TV, watching news channels and anxiously looking skywards. But by 3:30 the urge to leave took over and the next day no one turned up.
So the deluge and water logging is not a new phenomenon for the embattled Mumbaikar. But the fear of getting strangled on a local train amidst submerged tracks, spending the whole night in awkward position without food or water, has prompted him / her to take the excessive precautionary measures. 26/7 left an indelible mark on Mumbaikars psyche. It surfaces whenever he sees a dark cloud on the sky, and gradually buildup along with the rains. They don’t want to take a chance. At the slightest suggestion of a heavy rain, he packs up and leaves for the safety of his home. Otherwise what explains the exodus I witnessed on Monday evening? Every road, every subway & every train was packed, by 4:30! And Tuesday & Wednesday, empty train, empty roads and empty office.
The main reason is the fear, but the authorities are not helping either. By seeing the pathetic conditions of Roads (that too laid recently) and how the drains are clogged at the mere suggestion of rain, and how their homes are getting flooded year by year, how can they not get scared? BMC & MMRDA has made a lot of promises before the monsoon but they can’t prevent the flooding. The reasons are just as ridiculous. Mumbai is a coastal city, and a low lying one so flooding is inevitable! So didn’t they consider this fact before making statements like, “This time we are fully prepared” and “if there is any flooding, you can dunk the ward officer”.
Now this is going to be an annual ritual, one that’ll be included in the government calendar. Just like How the U.S.A declare holidays when it’s snowing heavily. Mumbai has reached the saturation point. Be prepared for the next episode of flooding. May be this will be one that lasts for the entire monsoon.
Some people went ahead with their anti-Mumbai rhetoric, suggesting Mumbai-ites have become a whining lot. They blame the authorities (read Central govt) for every mishap etc. Let me remind you guy’s one thing. Mumbai has every right to complain. We are the highest tax paying city in India, and therefore we demand the best of infrastructure and facilities. We feed the countries economic growth, then why can’t we expect the country to payback when it’s time? We are the economic capital but what do we have in terms of infrastructure? We have a 100 year old infrastructure, mainly the drainage system and since its inception, the population of this city has grown manifold. So why, why Mumbai can’t ask for favors? Or complain? After all Mumbai rightfully deserve it. And if you meant our officials, yes the public have every right to be angry. Those armchair pundits, who writes lengthy articles sitting on their comfy armchairs don’t know what an average Mumbaikar has to suffer on a rainy day. Flooded streets, submerged tracks both means he can’t get home on time. Ground floor residents have to dash before their valuable possessions got submerged. Traders has to shift the grains and other perishable stuff to higher points. So why, why can’t they ask for their lazy Babu’s to do their duty? Can’t they learn from mistakes? How many incidents do they need to do proper job?