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India Inc braces for monsoon blues

Corporate firms in Mumbai have initiated 'business continuity' plans. Pics

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 14:22 IST

India Inc is readying plans to beat monsoon blues in Mumbai after the first showers last week led to water-logging - a grim reminder of last year's floods that had brought the metropolis to a grinding halt.

Corporate firms have begun to put into place "business continuity" plans to handle emergency situations like the ones that arose last year when employees were unable to reach their offices for close to a week as the city's transport system was badly affected by incessant rains and resulting water-logging.

"The monsoons have already hit the city. The back-up process is invaluable for any tech company like ours. We have in place several physical and technical back-up exercises in our offices in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad," Kapil Kapoor, who works for a leading software firm, said. "If our Mumbai office cannot operate on any particular day, these centres will then take over," he added.

"We are discouraging employees to work beyond office hours, lest they get caught up in the rains. In case of emergencies and employees not being able to reach the office, we allow them to work from home. They are also allowed to carry home their office laptops," said Raju Hote, who works for a public relations firm.

"We are, however, ensuring that our communication system does not fail. And praying to rain gods that we be spared from another deluge," he added.

Their panic is understandable, as authorities were yet to complete pre-monsoon road repair works.

When this year's first showers hit Mumbai on Tuesday evening, they caught the government by surprise. Just days earlier, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had extended the deadline for repair works from May 31 to June 5 - the predicted onset of the rains.

It cost both the executing agencies, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), dearly.

As rains lashed the island city and its suburbs May 31, unfinished work on arterial roads and debris lying around caused widespread flooding leading to traffic bottlenecks, rekindling fears of a repeat of the July 26, 2005 disaster.

"Road concretisation is nearing completion and the dry spell from Friday to Sunday has given us the much needed respite. Water has receded from areas that were flooded. We are now hopeful to meet the June 5 deadline," said BMC chief engineer (roads) Mohan Kadam.

"Even if there are heavy rainfalls, BMC is prepared to meet the situation," he said.

"The May 31 flooding happened because all the waste is washed up with first showers and clogs the drains. Once we clear this up, the drains will function properly," Kadam said.

The official said newly laid concrete roads needed curing and early rains have helped.

"The curing period was almost over, but rains arrived early. This is, however, good for the roads," he added.

Residents, however, are not convinced, and quickly point out large stretches of unfinished roads.

Terming the busy Bandra-Kurla Complex road as a driver's nightmare, Hote said: "It is criminal that BMC officials have not bothered to repair patches of this lifeline between Mumbai's business hub and the suburbs for over six months."

A resident of Andheri complained: "The storm water drain along the Eastern Expressway is still being dug. When will the repairs work be completed? Let's hope the dry spell continues till the BMC's work is completed."

First Published: Jun 05, 2006 10:42 IST