BMC chief blames climate change for monsoon woes

Suburban trains chug on water-logged tracks during heavy rains, in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)

Mumbai municipal chief Praveen Pardeshi has blamed climate change and geographic phenomena for heavy rains in a short period of time and subsequent flooding in the city which saw water-logging in several areas in the last few days.

After a delayed arrival of the monsoon this year, the slowest onset in 45 years, the financial capital has received 550 mm of rainfall in two days, the highest over a two-day period in a decade.

"There is one thing -- climate change is happening. We never have rainfall in two days equal to a month's lot, which means more intense rainfall, this is geographic phenomena," Pardeshi said.

The senior IAS officer said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner (BMC) has been pumping out a massive amount of rainwater something no other city in the world can match.

"Second is higher-run off, despite that the municipal corporation with the help of citizens is trying to ensure that the entire run-off can be pumped out, which is a big thing (and) no other city in the world does it.

"The amount of water that we pump out artificially is equal to the entire drinking water storage in Powai and Vihar lakes (both sources of water for Mumbai)...," he told a private news channel.

Pardeshi explained why Mumbai is facing the current situation, which is seen almost every monsoon, and said the storm water drainage system is not equipped to handle the amount of rainfall the city gets.

"There are two facts which is in terms of business of our geography -- one is that we are an island city and over the course of last 50 years, we have built up most of Mumbai, that is the built-up area is high.

"So the coefficient of run-off, which in normal cases would be 0.4 to 0.6, if 100 mm rainfall falls, 40 mm would move into the storm water drainage and the rest would go as percolation," the BMC chief maintained.

"But if you have built up 100 per cent of the area, then all 100 mm has to run-off in storm water drains and our storm water capacity is generally catering to 60 per cent run-off.

"So there is an additional amount of rain which the storm water drainage cannot take care of, this combined with high tide, means that the water cannot be discharged in sea and thats what leads to water-logging," he said.

Over the last many years, Mumbai has been trying to build man-made infrastructure to ensure that water-logging is kept out of many spots and this consists of many pumps and enhanced storm water drainage capacity, Pardeshi said.

He said the BMC has been prompt in monitoring and pumping out rainwater from flood-prone spots like Hindmata.

"Despite having 550 mm rainfall in two days, which is entire June month's average, this should have rained in about 20 days, it has rained in two days, despite that our pumps are working in full capacity.... so all the water from Hindmata has been pumped out and that is water-logging free..." the senior bureaucrat said.

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