‘State’s management unit was a disaster’
Sent out just a few alerts even as rain battered the city and state; authorities say they were monitoring situation, insist BMC, collectorates 1st respondentsUpdated: Sep 06, 2019 01:01 IST
The state on Thursday got flak from the Opposition and activists over its disaster management unit’s delayed response in alerting citizens about the rain on Wednesday.
Heavy rain pounded Mumbai and several parts of Maharashtra on Wednesday, disrupting rail, road and air services and throwing life out of gear. Although an ‘orange’ (brace for rain) alert issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for the first half of the day was subsequently upgraded to ‘red’ (extreme rain) alert after 2pm, the state disaster management unit (DMU) did not issue any advisory for the citizens.
Even as the river levels were swelling in Raigad, landslides were reported in western Maharashtra, and villages were cutoff due to flash floods in Vidarbha, the Mantralaya Control Room just put out two tweets on Tuesday from its official Twitter handle. On Wednesday, it put out two tweets from its handle, but retweeted the advisory, alerts and updates tweeted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Western Railway and Central Railway from their respective Twitter handles.
“There are alerts stating ‘heavy to very heavy rain’, but we can’t say how much it will rain. We don’t have technology to predict that. We monitor and coordinate with collectorates. We don’t tweet much because it can create chaos. But we have put out some tweets with authentic information about trains,” said Kishore Raje Nimbalkar, secretary, relief and rehabilitation.
Abhay Yawalkar, director of DMU, said they were monitoring the rain situation in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state from the Mantralaya control room in south Mumbai. He said the BMC’s disaster management cell tackles the flood, while district collectorates in other parts of the state are the “first respondents”. Nimbalkar said that locals in Pen and Mahad were evacuated by the Raigad district administration which was monitored by the department.
“The collector has the police, fire brigade, its own disaster management team. In case, if they cannot handle it, we call State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF),” he said.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Mumbai is a financial capital and the state capital but the infrastructure is pathetic. This is because the current government thinks that it will remain in power forever.”
Mumbai-based activist Rishi Agarwal said, “The DMU being delayed in alerting and responding is a mirror reflection of the lackadaisical attitude towards everyday issues that Mumbai faces.” Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was taking stock of the rain situation in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state from the DMU, Nimbalkar said.
Fadnavis too did not put out any tweet from his official Twitter handle about the rain situation. Thirteen tweets of him receiving cheques for CM Relief Fund were put out on Wednesday. Fadnavis’ Twitter handle retweeted BMC’s tweet requesting Mumbai citizens to stay indoors.