Mumbai’s rain woes back on first day of monsoon
Flooded areas, disrupted train services, halted traffic and stranded citizens — nothing went off script in Mumbai’s monsoon story, right from day one, as heavy rain lashed the city and its suburbs on Wednesday, washing away the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) claims of having completed pre-monsoon work.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) declared the arrival of the south-west monsoon in Mumbai, two days prior to the official onset date, as between 8am and 5.30pm, the island city recorded 102mm rain, eastern suburbs received 169mm and western suburbs got 137mm.
Municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal and mayor Kishori Pednekar blamed the excess rain within a short time for the city’s flooding woes. “No one claimed that there will be no waterlogging in Mumbai due to heavy rain, nor can anyone make such a claim. But after waterlogging, if the water does not recede within four hours, we can say that pre-monsoon work has not been done properly,” said Pednekar. Chahal said, “Between 9am and 10am, areas like Sion and Chunabhatti received 55-60 mm rain. Owing to this, rain water flooded railway tracks. Road and railway traffic is affected only at three spots, namely Dahisar subway, Sion and Chunabhatti.”
The city’s flooding situation prompted chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to visit BMC’s disaster management control room to take stock of the situation. While the BMC blamed excess rain and high tide for the waterlogging, citizens pointed out the insufficient cleaning by authorities.
Activists said rainwater accumulated across several areas in the morning did not drain out even by 4pm, despite the rain receding.
According to the BMC, waterlogging was reported at 13 locations, including seven areas in the island city (Hindmata, Sion, Sion bridge, Kalachowkie, Matunga, Dadar TT and BPT Colony). Further, two locations in Kurla and Mankhurd were flooded, along with four spots in the western suburbs — Milan, Malad, Khar and Andheri subways. Rainwater started accumulating in several parts of the city as floodgates were closed in the morning, owing to a high tide of 4.13m around 11.43am, officials said. Post this, several areas like Andheri subway, Milan subway, Sion, Matunga, Dadar TT, Postal Colony in Chembur witnessed waterlogging. In a span of 12 hours, between 5am and 5pm on Wednesday, the city received 137mm of rain, western suburbs got 190mm and eastern suburbs recorded 214mm. Most of this rain was between 9am and 2pm.
A BMC official said, “This heavy rain coincided with high tide at 11.45am, because of which many nullahs (stormwater drains) and rivers were not able to empty the water into the sea. In all, we had installed 189 dewatering pumps at 445 locations.”
The IMD had on Tuesday issued a yellow warning for the city, but by afternoon it was upgraded to a red alert, warning of very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall. An orange alert has been issued by the IMD till Sunday.
Also, on Wednesday, a total of 32 tree-fall incidents were reported in the city and suburbs, followed by six incidents of house and wall collapses, and 14 incidents of short circuits. No injuries were reported
On the waterlogging situation, Chahal said, “At Andheri subway, the construction of Mogra pumping station is the only solution and in the coming years, problems for Andheri subway will get resolved. Further, at Hindmata and Gandhi Market, our work is going on, and starting next month, we will see a change. But this time, we installed ramps at Hindmata due to which there was no disruption in traffic.”
Pednekar said, “On the accumulation of water on railway tracks, we have been continuously coordinating with railway authorities. We are in continuous touch with railway authorities to ensure culverts are cleaned.”
Nikhil Desai, a resident of Matunga and a civic activist, said, “The BMC claims there was waterlogging due to high tide, but waterlogging started at 9am. Also, after both high tide and rain stopped, water did not drain out immediately. It was only at 7pm that the water drained out. This has exposed the preparations done by BMC for monsoon.”
On the other hand, Gautam Rao, a resident of Santacruz, said, “They spent ₹120 crore to build a pumping station in 2019, but still we see flooding around the Gazdar scheme and now the water accumulates at SV Road and Linking Road. The waterlogging started since 9am after hardly an hour of rainfall. We are witnessing waterlogging every time there is rain. The entire problem starts with the flawed design of the newly built pumping station.”
Meanwhile, according to BMC officials, traffic was diverted at 17 locations — near Mankhurd station, Sion road no: 24, Antop Hill, Gandhi Market, Hindmata, Air India colony, National College in Bandra, RCF colony, Andheri Market, Oshiwara, Dahisar check naka, Chunabhatti station, Siddharth Nagar, Goregaon, among other spots. Traffic from the above locations was diverted owing to waterlogging in roads connecting these junctions. Viraj Mamania, a Borivli resident, said, “I travel to Dadar daily for office work, but on Wednesday I could not get out of my house due to waterlogging. We had complained to the BMC, but no one attended to the complaint and it was only by evening, that the water drained out on its own.” Meanwhile, the central and harbour lines of the Central Railway (CR) were suspended for almost the entire day.
Meanwhile, corporators across party lines slammed the BMC and the mayor. Ravi Raja, leader of Opposition in the BMC and Congress corporator, said, “The mayor herself has indicated that one cannot stop water logging in the city. So, I feel the administration should come out in the open and say that waterlogging cannot not happen. Like every year, it is clear now that all tall claims made by the BMC get washed off in the first spell of rain.”