Services disrupted, administration shaken as Mumbai drowns in decade's heaviest downpour
The heaviest downpour in a decade shuts down the Maximum City’s lifeline and shakes up the administration.
Mumbai received 283 mm of rainfall in one day from Thursday morning to Friday morning, the highest in a decade but sharply lower than the massive 944 mm that drenched the city and led to severe dislocation on July 26, 2005. Ajoy Mehta, commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said the city received 10% of its annual rainfall in just one day.
Airport staff worked around the clock and a few flights were delayed but train and bus commuters suffered severely as services were disrupted and water flooded low-lying areas and homes of residents. Auto drivers charged skyhigh rates to travel short distances but the financial trading community were as enthusiastic as ever with bond and stock trading largely unaffected.
Government bond trading value was at Rs 60,000 crore, versus the Rs 40,000-45,000 crore seen in the rest of the week, data from the central bank trading system shows. The benchmark bond yield fell six basis points to close at 7.70% pushing prices up.
Stock rose as investors bought into beatendown blue chips as data from government agencies and from the countryside continued to show above normal rains for June and widespread planting of crops. A dire forecast of below normal rains in early June by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) pulled down stock prices. The Sensex rose over 200 points on Friday, ending the week with its first gain in four weeks. The Nifty closed above 8,200.
But elsewhere in the city, offices were either shut or worked with small staff, productivity fell and high-profile programmes were cancelled. The Shiv Sena, the party which controls the BMC, had to put off its foundation day celebrations due to the downpour. NCP leader Sharad Pawar who was supposed to talk about the ongoing Lalit Modi-Sushma Swaraj controversy called off his press conference.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told people to stay at home and visited the BMC’s control room to direct work and take stock of the situation. The Sena was on the backfoot for much of the day as the Opposition criticised it for lack of preparedness and for failing to prevent the chaos that was visible all across the city. The Sena is desperate to retain the 2017 BMC elections after losing the assembly elections to the BJP last year and cannot afford to let people think that it has failed to spruce up the city’s infrastructure.
Ajoy Mehta says Navy, Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team have been kept on standby to rescue people. Navy has deployed naval divers and inflatable boat across Mumbai and also has arranged medical teams said a Navy spokesperson.
Residents of Mithi river, which courses through some of the city’s most crowded and localities, where there were many casualties during the July 2005 downpour, refused to evacuate in spite of the river crossing the danger level. “I appeal to the residents with folded hands to cooperate with the BMC,” Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said