Mumbai: Normal life in the country’s financial capital came to a grinding halt on Friday as torrential rains wreaked havoc in the city and its suburbs leading to cancellation of local train services that left thousands of commuters stranded.

The downpour also led to disruption of vehicular traffic and delayed flight operations with three services being diverted.

One flight each of Indigo and Jet Airways had to be diverted to Ahmedabad, while a third one of Go Air had to be sent to Vadodara, said a spokesperson for the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA).

“The airport is operational but the flights are delayed by 30 minutes," a spokesperson for the CSIA said. The delays are due to “ATC congestion" as the rain has affected flight timings. As for the visibility, the spokesperson said, it is at a comfortable 800-1,000m at present which can support flight operations.

The average rainfall recorded in 24 hours ending 8am on Friday is—City 188mm, Eastern Suburbs 155mm, Western Suburbs 172mm, according to the meteorological department.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also issued an alert in view of the high tide (4.47m) expected during the day. People were also asked to avoid sea facing roads. The rains caused water-logging in almost all low-lying areas of Mumbai and its suburbs including Kurla, Chembur, Tilak Nagar, Andheri, Parel, Lower Parel, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Dombivili.

There seems to be no let up in the situation with the Meteorological Department predicting heavy to very heavy monsoon rains in some areas. The heavy rains also forced the Shiv Sena to cancel its foundation day event while the Bombay High Court declared holiday on Friday as lawyers and staff could not turn up.

While Central Railway services still remain cancelled, the Western Railway has partially resumed services on a limited stretch between Andheri and Virar.

BMC has already ordered schools across the city to remain shut in view of rains while Mumbai University (MU) deferred examinations of BA, MA and also the practical examinations of MSC.

MU deputy registrar Leeladhar Bansod said all examinations have been put off to the next date as it was not possible for students to come to exam centres due to heavy rains.

Power supply affected

Few parts of Mumbai plunged into darkness since Friday morning after the power supplier Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) shut down six substations in the areas.

“We have shut down six substations in some parts of Mumbai as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident," BEST deputy PRO Manoj Varade said.

He said the substations in areas of Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, Punjabi Colony (Sion), Bhendi Bazaar, Opera House have been shut since Friday morning.

“Due to heavy and incessant rains in the city since Thursday, there are possibilities of water logging in these areas. If we operate the transformers in such a condition, the chances of them getting damaged are high, which may result in complete disruption of power supply. Therefore, to avoid this, we decided to shut down these substations," he said.

When asked when will the operations in these substations resume, Varade said, “It depends on the rains. If it continues to rain heavily, we might have to keep them shut for few more hours."

Meanwhile, power supply in certain areas in Dadar and nearby areas in central Mumbai has also been disrupted since Friday morning.

Fadnavis appeals to Mumbaikars

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis appealed to residents to venture out only if required and asked people to stay away from seafronts during high tide slots as it can prove “fatal". After taking stock of the situation at the BMC disaster management cell, he also suggested to the public to refer to advisories being issued by the civic body on an hourly-basis before leaving home.

“The major challenge will be after 2.30pm as the high tide will set in. And at that time, it will also be raining. So, there is a possibility of more water-logging in low-lying spots. So, we have advised people to not come out. If they want to come out, they should refer to advisories which we have given, which BMC is circulating every hour," he said.

Fadnavis expressed satisfaction over the functioning of the disaster management cell as well as that of senior civic officials, including municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta and additional municipal commissioners.

“BMC has installed 176 pumps to fetch water from water-logging spots. The BMC war room is functioning quite well. I have seen all the hotlines are functioning. They are responding to calls. There are certain calls about trees falls which are being addressed," he said and added efforts are being made to see local trains become operative (by draining water along tracks).

Meanwhile, Mumbai Metropolitan and Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said operations of Metro Rail and Mono Rail services are not affected whereas Central Railway cancelled seven outstation trains in the view of rains.

Sources said long distance trains are bunched up outside Mumbai as they are not getting signal to enter the city due to water-logging. Deputy PRO of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Manoj Varade said they operated 203 extra buses in view of cancellation of local train services.

He said BEST converted buses on short trips into long trips to facilitate transportation of maximum passengers.

Office-goers cycle to work

Many office-goers bicycled to work, calling it the best alternative to reach their destinations in time. “There was water logging in many pockets, which leads to all the motorised vehicles getting stuck. There is no issue like this for me as I dragged the bicycle in those waist-deep waters at Kings Circle," said Vikas Chavan, who works for a publishing company in downtown Fort area.

It started off like any other day for Chavan, a recreational cyclist. He went to the Koparkhairane railway station in the morning, only to find that the famed train network has collapsed due to overnight heavy downpour. The decision to cycle the around 40-km distance to work was instantaneous, a “natural alternative", he says, sounding excited about the experience and the fact that he was among the few staffers who made it.

Parking the bicycles was, however, a big trouble as the watchmen used to parking bulky four wheelers were to be convinced to allow the humble bicycle. The experiences were varied but the joy of having made it to work was very satisfying, they said.

Western coast to see more rains

According to Skymet, a private weather forecasting agency, the offshore trough running from south Gujarat coast up to Kerala is causing rain in the western coast region.

The India Meteorological Department said, “Heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur at isolated places in the districts of Konkan region and Goa during the next 72 hours, starting from the morning of 20 June".

“Heavy rainfall would occur at isolated places in districts of Marathwada during the next 24 hours," it said.

Ratnagiri received 104mm of rain, while Goa observed 101mm of rain. Honavar (coastal Karnataka) and Kochi also witnessed 51mm and 46mm of rain respectively.

Heavy rain is also being observed along the east coast. Machilipatnam in a span of 24 hours, from 8.30am on Thursday, has received 70 mm of rain. Kakinada and Visakhapatnam have recorded 33mm and 27mm of rain respectively, Skymet said. In view of the system in the Bay of Bengal, south Odisha will also receive some good amount of rain.

The interior parts of Maharashtra, Vidarbha, and Chhattisgarh will also observe some rainfall activity during the next 24 hours.

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