Monsoon mayhem

Monsoon mayhem

Mumbai’s unpreparedness for the monsoons has been laid bare yet again with normal life being thrown out of gear after a few days’ downpour. Severe waterlogging in parts of the city left commuters stranded, with trains running late and  two-wheelers and cars going under water. While the situation in the last few days is not half as bad as that in 2005, when incessant rain paralysed Mumbai for several days, Mumbaikars are bracing themselves for the worst as this monsoon. Only a few weeks ago, civic authorities claimed that they had taken preventive steps like de-clogging of drains and desilting the Mithi River. Mumbai, they said, was ready to stand up to the monsoons. But such claims sank when the rains came. 

Mumbai is expected to experience its highest sea tide in 27 years later this month. Civic authorities should act immediately to prevent what could turn out to be a disaster.  It is ironical that even as Mumbai’s streets and homes in low-lying areas go under water, its residents are reeling from severe water shortage. Drinking water supply to homes has been cut by 30 per cent. Had rain water harvesting been put in place well ahead it could have saved Mumbai from thirst.

Much of Mumbai’s waterlogging problems can be traced back to the fact that this is a city that has been built on land reclaimed from the sea. But civic authorities have learnt little from past mistakes. They continue to build without paying heed to ecology or environment. Malls, golf courses and amusement parks are springing up on land where mangroves once stood. The destruction of mangroves is depriving Mumbai of its natural flood-barrier and silt trap. Environmentalists say that construction of the Bandra-Worli sea link has narrowed the mouth of the River Mithi, restricting the excess water it discharged into the Arabian Sea.

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