For those who live in north India, monsoons have always been a big deal. Once it hits the Kerala coast in early June, endless discussions/speculation begin in north India on when it will land in this region, how long it will be here and whether the rains will be normal/above normal/below normal.
Even as the region waits for the showers to cool the parched earth, north India is ‘tormented’ by images from Mumbai: Huge waves hitting the coastline and residents sitting and enjoying the water spray as dark rain clouds gather in the sky. Indeed a soothing sight for those suffering in 40-plus temperature.
But once the monsoon hits the region, much of that romanticism gives way to anger and irritation because of the mess and suffering that come with the rains, especially in the metros. The reasons are not far to seek: the civic infrastructure just collapses like a pack of cards. Last week, Hindustan Times’ Delhi edition carried a photograph of a ‘mini waterfall’ in Millennium City, Gurgaon. It was actually a caved-in part of a road in Gurgaon that is used by commuters to enter and exit the city that is dotted with malls, expensive condominiums and offices of top corporates.
Meanwhile, the social media timeline of Delhiites has become ‘woeline’ because thousands of people have had a harrowing time reaching their destinations because the roads were flooded and clogged. This is not a new story: Year after year despite promises from civic authorities, the situation never changes. In fact, in the last week of June when we wrote about floods in Assam, we mentioned that the rains are yet to reach Delhi and how prepared the state is can be found out only when the season starts. And now that the season is here we are all at sea, once again. Along with water-logging there is the twin challenge of dengue and leptospirosis which has already killed 12 in Mumbai.
We often hail what is now called the ‘Mumbai spirit’ which ensures that come hail or storm, people will wade through the challenges effortlessly. This holds true even for Delhi. But let’s not paper over the issues of poor civic management by using such pithy terminology. Civic infrastructure in our cities is in a mess and someone should be hauled up for that. It cannot be water under the bridge until the next time.