India's commercial capital Mumbai received a fresh round of rainfall today, days after the weather department forecast heavy downpour in the city over the weekend. Over 32 flights were delayed and three cancelled due to weather conditions. Local trains are also running late by 10-15 minutes. The city's civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or BMC, has already got its armory in place to face the lash.
The downpour has resulted in severe water-logging in many parts of the city. Some weather experts have predicted the situation might get worse than the 2005 Mumbai rains.
In the wake of the warning from the weather department, BMC has cancelled the leaves of all its senior officials for the weekend, besides taking a number of precautionary measures to ensure that the residents don't face any problem.
People have been asked to stay indoors. In a statement, the Regional Meteorological Centre of Mumbai said, "As rainfall activity is likely to enhance from 8th June with further increase on 9th June, people are advised to abstain from outdoor activities as much as possible during the period and also watch for the weather." Fishermen have also been warned against going too far out into the sea.
The Mumbai police also warned people to drive safe after a vehicle tripped over in Parel due to slippery roads resulting from the rain.
Schools will be kept open at all times for shelter in case of flooding. Navy personnel have been put on stand-by in parts of the city that are usually most flooded when there is heavy rain.
Three teams of National Disaster Response Force or NDRF will be stationed at Parel, Mankhurd (for eastern suburbs) and Andheri Sports Complex (for western suburbs). They are equipped with walkie-talkies and flood rescue material.
Heavy rain has also been forecast for coastal Karnataka, Goa and south Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, on June 7, 2018, Mumbai received 27.6mm to 37.8mm of rainfall. Certainly not the most, but enough to throw city out of gear with water logging and delayed trains and flights. However, the worst is yet to come.
The IMD has forecast heavy rainfall for the city over the weekend. And as per private weather forecaster Skymet, it could be the heaviest since July 26, 2005, when it rained 944mm in just 24 hours, resulting in massive flooding, deaths of over 500 people and losses overs Rs 550 crores.
But heavy rainfall has drowned Mumbai not just once. In fact, the maximum city has experienced monstrous floods twice already in the current decade, in 2011 and 2017. In fact in 2017, insurers had to take a hit of Rs 500 crores in claims.
Being a coastal city, heavy rainfall is a given in Mumbai. Question is why are floods becoming a regular occurrence in the city?
One of the biggest reasons is 150-year-old Mumbai’s drainage system. It is designed to handle 2.5 cm (25mm) of rain every hour and that too only if there is no high tide.
Two, the desilting and cleaning of drains- an annual exercise by the city’s municipal corporation (BMC) is not carried out properly, despite the fact that BMC is the richest municipal body in Asia with a budget bigger than several states in the country.
Third, the Mithi river, which drains water into Arabian Sea is choking with garbage, silt and sewage, and its floodplains encroached by slums. Though the administration has repeatedly drawn plans to revive the river, they have been abandoned.
Fourth, low-lying areas near deltas and on sinking coasts are crowded with slums making them vulnerable to flooding.
Fifth, heavy rain clubbed with a high tide prevents rain water from flowing into the sea, instead it brings it right back into the city.
Sixth, the depleting mangroves. Mangroves mitigate the impact of torrential rains but cutting them down brings out what is a natural barrier to flooding.