Mumbai monsoon in the distance, blame game has begun
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Mumbai monsoon in the distance, blame game has begun

A staggering 59% of the 1,878 roads on which the BMC had undertaken repairs and maintenance work last year are in half-complete state

mumbai Updated: May 24, 2018 00:52 IST
Mumbai monsoon,Mumbai floods
A car breaks down on a waterlogged road at Hindmata, Parel during the 2017 Mumbai monsoon. (HT File)

The monsoon clouds over Mumbai are few and far between. The first shower is probably two-three weeks away. The first thunderous downpour which usually takes lives, throws asunder the city’s rhythm, and ruthlessly exposes Mumbai’s veneer of being a modern metropolis is still only a nightmare (it could come true, though).

Yet, the blame game for governmental failure has begun.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) which gets all or most of the flak is unlikely to successfully finish all de-silting, road-repair and tree-trimming work by the end of May. Barely half of the annual pre-monsoon de-silting work on storm-water drains and nullahs had been completed, till a week back.

A staggering 59% of the 1,878 roads on which the BMC had undertaken repairs and maintenance work last year are in half-complete state; work on half of these unfinished roads will “spill over” to post-monsoon months, according to civic officials. The less said about garbage clearance and solid waste management, the better.

The chronic flooding spots are well-known but the BMC has virtually thrown up its hands on many of them because other agencies are doing work there. The railways are doing their bit to clean culverts but it’s never enough. Add to this the nonchalance – even indifference – from the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) whose work has mangled what’s left of the city’s roads and its network of utilities. The city’s rivers, which would have carried rain water to the sea continue to be in their worst clogged state despite chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gamely swaying to a river anthem.

Realists know that this monsoon in Mumbai promises to be third-degree torture at the minimum; certainly, badly disruptive. Public anger against authorities is bound to follow. Media and social media criticism will also happen. How best to counter it? The ‘Art of Deflecting’ comes to the rescue.

Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar unsurprisingly absolved the BMC of the likely snags last week itself and declared that “the state government will be answerable” if Mumbai is flooded this monsoon because its agencies have undertaken so much work across the city. The railways have stated that they have done what lies within their jurisdictions and have requested the BMC to provide water-draining pumps at specific points and so on. Agencies such as the MMRCL believe they are not even answerable to citizens or their woes unless the honourable high court makes them do so.

Each authority, autonomous or otherwise, has begun deflecting the blame already. This means it individually and collectively knows that there could be mayhem during the monsoon this year – and has attempted to explain away its shortcomings and deficiencies by attributing them to another agency in advance. This Art of Deflecting does not help the situation or change it for the better; it only makes that agency feel good about itself.

This is somewhat like creating excuses to blame one’s co-students and teachers for one’s poor performance in exams. It’s laughable, it’s juvenile, but most importantly, it’s an admission of helplessness and lack of accountability. And this is the worst part of facing the monsoon for us Mumbaiites.

It is not only sheer agony and risk involved in negotiating the city during the monsoon, but also the realisation that, year after year, the agencies responsible for the city will simply not be accountable for the mess in it. This is not civic governance. We aren’t even talking Smart City language anymore.

First Published: May 24, 2018 00:52 IST