The BMC’s monsoon website, launched with much fanfare in 2012 with promises to keep Mumbaiites informed and updated, especially during crippling downpours, has been quietly scrapped. Visit www.mumbaimonsoon.in and you’ll be greeted by a note that reads: “The owner of mumbaimonsoon.in is offering it for sale for an asking price of 2000 USD.”
Also defunct is the BMC’s ‘Mumbai Monsoon’ smartphone app, which it launched just last year. Like the website, it was pulled by the BMC without informing users. In its place, the BMC launched a new app called ‘Disaster Management’ on June 15 but failed to advertise this, rendering it all but useless during Friday’s downpour.
At the launch of the website in 2012, BMC officials had promised it would have details of rainfall at 29 places and 100 landmarks across the city, updated every 15 minutes. They said the BMC had also coordinated with the traffic police, railways and airport authorities to provide information about traffic diversions, train and flight disruptions on the website. It was also meant to be integrated with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The quiet scrapping of the website and smartphone app, however, reveals the extent of the BMC technological ineptitude. Another indication of this is the fact that its disaster management account on Twitter (@ccrsdmp) still advertises the defunct Mumbai monsoon website, while its primary account (@bmcmumbai) advertises bmcmumbai.co.in, another non-existent site.
In his budget speech, then municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte had said, “We are now in a position to effectively spread information to residents on issues that directly or indirectly affect them.”
Despite claims like this, and others about turning Mumbai into a ‘smart city’, the BMC remains largely clueless about technology. Mumbaiites, many of whom now get updates via Twitter and Facebook, can still only get in touch with the BMC with a phone call. On Friday alone, the disaster management cell received 5,000 distress calls.