Mumbai comes to a halt again, as water clogging woes continue

The ‘Dream City’ has comes to a standstill again. The first rains have impacted the road, rail and air services altogether. There is water clogging in the low-lying areas of Central Mumbai. Water has gushed into houses, shops and even police stations haven’t been spared. People are seen walking through knee-deep water. 3 teams of National Disaster Response Force are summoned.

It has been 13 years for the catastrophe of 2005 floods that had engulfed the financial capital of the country but the authorities of India’s richest civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation seem to have not taken lessons yet inspite choking being an annual affair in the city.

Why rains choke Mumbai ?

1. The destructive development of the city has razed its wetlands, wastelands, mangroves and salt-pan lands, that act like sponges and take the pressure out of the high tides when water hits the city and if it rains continuously the surplus water is blocked by the high tide and then the sea enters the city.

2. Mumbai’s storm water drainage system was built during the British rule, shockingly since then no government has tried to build an advanced drainage system. At present, the drainage system is capable of handling only 25 mm rain and it definitely rains more than that every year.

3. The contracts for clearance of drains are issued late every year and there is no inspection of drains for the remaining part of the year. The contractors never complete the work before the rains arrive and sweep the city.

4. Solid waste management is another big concern for the city. 10% of the garbage is plastic which is 650 metric tonnes per day. Construction debris, thermocol add to the crisis.

5. The government is not only at fault, the residents are too. They litter anywhere and are nonchalant about it. 7500 tonnes of garbage is collected everyday and the uncollected ones choke the drains.

6. The railway tracks in most parts of the city are below Mean Sea Level (MSL) and hence when drain water goes to the Mithi river, it gets flooded and disrupts the rail network. However encroachment along the bank of the river have disrupted its course.

There are solutions to this menace, rainwater harvesting, widening and deepening of drains, complete bans on plastic bags at the manufacturer’s level, clearing encroachment along the banks of the Mithi river to name a few.

Despite everything Mumbai keeps moving at a rapid pace, inspite of the clogs and halts and all of this will be forgotten the next day, until the next year when the same problems will come back to haunt the Mumbaikars.