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Mumbai civic body gives BEST, railways, traffic cops monsoon checklist to prevent disasters

The BMC has formulated a Standard Operating Procedure for all agencies to follow during the monsoon

mumbai Updated: Mar 03, 2018 13:40 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
BMC,rain,Mumbai monsoon
The heavy rain on August 29, 2017, brought the city to a standstill, and eventually claimed 14 lives.(HT File Photo)

The state’s financial capital was brought to a grinding halt after heavy rainfall pounded the city on August 29, last year. Days later, 14 were dead and 12 were missing. The deluge had caught all the agencies responsible —from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to the traffic police — unawares.

To be better prepared in case of another deluge, the civic body has decided to take action this monsoon — from issuing warning messages, appointing nodal officers from traffic, railways and BEST, to communication of emergency messages during heavy rainfall.The BMC has formulated a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the India Meteorological Department (IMD), BEST, Railways, traffic police, Mumbai police and Reliance Energy (BEST and Reliance Energy distribute electricity to majority of the city) to be followed during monsoon.

The BMC specifically asked both the transportation agencies — Railways and BEST — to issue messages related to water logging and cancellation of services.

It also asked BEST to prepare a plan to tow away buses stuck on the road during heavy rainfall and providing a free bus service to stranded people.

Following inadequate warning by IMD on August 29, (the IMD had predicted the city would receive extremely heavy rainfall in one or two locations. The city received 333 mm rain on that day), the BMC asked the agency to provide a warning specific to an area, time and intensity of rainfall. It also asked the IMD to ensure the Doppler Radar was in working condition and issue ‘de-warning’ messages. “Fearing a repeat of August 29 and warning of heavy rainfall the next day, all schools were closed. However, what we witnessed on August 30 was a sunny day, thus de-warning messages are vital,” said a civic official on condition of anonymity.

The civic body’s internal report soon after the deluge had highlighted a lack of communication between all the agencies and disaster management unit for disruption.

For the traffic police, the civic body has asked for designated parking slots to be made available immediately during disasters and all the variable message boards be used to display traffic congestion and water-logging information.

After preparing the SOP, the BMC held a meeting with all agencies last week. “A few plans were not acceptable to the agencies either owing to lack of technology available or lack of man power. Railway has asked for assistance while rescuing passengers, but agreed to disseminate information proactively. All agencies have agreed to appoint a nodal officer to communicate with the disaster management unit,” said an officer who had attended the meeting.

This is the first time the BMC has devised a separate SOP for monsoon. It has an SOP for the fire department, school disaster management plan and oil spills, among others.

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 13:39 IST