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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

BMC preparations in full-swing as IMD predicts heavy rainfall in Mumbai

  • The city is already struggling with shortage of testing facilities and beds due to coronavirus and health problems that accompany the arrival of monsoon over the city will make the situation worse

MUMBAI: Mumbai's civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), is pulling out all the stops to brace for the arrival of monsoon over the city as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rain on 3-4 June.

“We are watching the situation and expecting very heavy rainfall of over 12 cm on 3-4 June in Mumbai," KS Hosalikar, deputy director general at IMD Mumbai, told Mint over a phone call.

“Mumbai received its first rain in the form of light showers on Sunday night in some pockets including Dadar, Wadala, Sion and Chembur areas. All the coastal districts of Maharashtra, from Sindhudurg to Palghar have been alerted about the cyclonic storm-like system developing on the Arabian Sea," he added.

On Sunday, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said the state government was alerting people from Sindhudurg to Mumbai, to be prepared. “A cyclone may land on our western coast in a couple of days. Though I feel this may not happen and the cyclone may change its direction, we are prepared. I urge our fishermen from not going to the sea for 4-5 days," he said.

On an average, Mumbai receives 235.4 cm rain in the four month monsoon season starting June. July is the wettest month that usually witnesses more than one-third of the city’s annual rainfall.

While heavy rain and floods are a recurrent problem in Mumbai during the monsoon season, this time the challenges are manifold as the city’s slums, usually located along creeks and in low-lying areas, are not only prone to floods and vector-borne diseases, but have also become the hotspots for coronavirus.

“We are doing our best to reduce monsoon-related diseases. We have deployed more than double the number of teams compared to last year and have sanitised and sprayed insecticides at over 1 lakh premises, including those where covid-19 positive were detected, home quarantine premises and over 12,000 municipal premises," said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner (health) at BMC.

“We are trying to ramp up beds at health facilities solely dedicated to covid-19 patients, so that other public and private health facilities can absorb non-covid patients. Some facilities will be exclusively reserved for vector-borne and seasonal diseases so that patients are not turned down at hospitals," he added.

"The city is expecting heavy rains in the next three-four days, which means the rainy season will start earlier. The problem is that this will lead to more fever cases, even simple virals, so there will be some confusion in how to separate this from covid-19 cases," said Shivkumar Utture, president, Maharashtra Medical Council.

The city is struggling with shortage of testing facilities and beds due to covid-19 and health problems that accompany the arrival of monsoon in the city will make the situation worse, said Utture.

In May, BMC deployed nearly 200-250 teams within its 24 administrative wards (A to T) to tackle mosquito breeding, potholes, footpath improvement, road resurfacing, delisting, tree trimming and bridge repairs to avoid flooding and water-logging.

But BMC’s critical monsoon preparations have moved at a snail’s pace due to the coronavirus-led lockdown and staff absenteeism.

“The shortage of staff poses the biggest worry for the BMC’s health department. While absenteeism has been higher than average over the fear of infections, every single available hand has been pressed into pandemic mitigation duties," said Dhaval Desai, senior fellow and vice president at Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai in a paper published on 28 May.

As of 31 May, Maharashtra’s covid-19 tally reached 67,655. Of these, 29,329 have fully recovered, while 2,286 died.

Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in India as nearly 371 out of every 1,000 confirmed covid-19 cases were from here. The recovery rate in the state was at 43.35%, against the national average of 47.7%, while the case fatality rate was 3.37% in the state, compared to the national average of 2.8%.

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