Of flooded streets and falling trees | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Of flooded streets and falling trees

So it takes late showers to get a city to a halt and a fire to dissolve years of paperwork pointing towards a big housing scam. Is our infrastructure that fallible? If a sudden downpour can bring the metropolis to its knees, then it’s anyone’s guess what other terrors are in store for us.

mumbai Updated: Jul 01, 2012 00:50 IST
Moresha Benjamin

So it takes late showers to get a city to a halt and a fire to dissolve years of paperwork pointing towards a big housing scam. Is our infrastructure that fallible? If a sudden downpour can bring the metropolis to its knees, then it’s anyone’s guess what other terrors are in store for us.

Trees are getting uprooted and families are losing loved ones to tragedies that can be totally avoided. If only officials took responsibility and made sure that such incidents don’t occur. But officials do what they do best, they don’t do anything.

Yes, I love the Mumbai monsoons including the muck and grime. You cannot avoid it even if you wanted to, right? When they are about to start, I make sure the world hears that my favourite season has arrived. This time the wait was really long. On Thursday, the downpour brought Mumbai to an abrupt halt.

I was surprised, not at the rains arriving late, but at how the city stopped functioning with the first proper downpour of the season.
Years of bad roads and flooding have made us good predictors of when the city will get flooded. Heck, we don’t even require the MET department to give its forecast because the answer is there for all to see.

So then why do the BMC and other authorities do as they please year after year?
They are like that spoilt child who knows he can get his way and won’t be reprimanded because there is no one really to pay attention. Is this what is actually happening with our government machinery, or is it just lack of a proper mechanism to be answerable for their actions rather complacency?
We survived 26/7 only to be reminded of it every time the city witnesses heavy rains. Why is the government being mum about it? Lives lost to flooded streets, falling trees, potholed roads have become a way of life. It’s a blatant abuse of our rights as citizens.
Why are there government bodies and officials when the only help we are getting is from one another? The officials just give a statement to the media. That’s about it.

It has become a joke and soon people will be betting to see when the city gets flooded again, if they haven’t already. Another way of making a living in this city, eh?

One more theory doing the rounds suggests that the roads are the way they are because the BMC is concerned about people’s buying choices. For instance, if you buy a pair of shoes, the only true test will be to walk on the city’s roads to see how long they last. The car companies are in a fix too. They are seriously thinking of using “Built for Mumbai roads” as their default tag line when launching new car models.
The Mantralaya issue seems to be getting resolved soon but what about years of dug up roads, traffic snarls and jammed trains? Don’t we deserve better or the government has decided for us that this is what we deserve?

One of the ways to curb this menace is to empower citizen initiatives where development of roads and other infrastructure comes under the purview of citizen led bodies. Include volunteer-based participation. Perhaps, include this in the college curriculum. This will also help collegians become aware of their city in more ways than one.

Regular checks should ideally be carried out on ongoing projects. Stringent laws should be implemented if deadlines are not met.
At the end of it all, it’s always left to the citizens to take it upon their shoulders and come up with ways to make the government work for what it has promised to deliver.

But the question remains, why is that we have to take care of the government when the government is supposed to take care of us. Why is that we have to be running around to see the city’s machinery is working fine?
Will it take another High Court order to make sure the roads are in working condition?

(Moresha Benjamin is a road tripper, freelance writer and photographer)