MUMBAI: It was an all too familiar monsoon mayhem in Mumbai that began on Monday and continued well into Tuesday. Maximum City was in a mess. There were at least 21 deaths because of a wall collapse, streets were waterlogged, suburban trains were unable to run as water flowed over the tracks, many flights and long-distance trains were cancelled or diverted, and commuters were stranded at train stations and airports.
A record high rainfall between 8.30am on 1 July and 8.30am on 2 July of 375.2 mm in Santacruz, according to the weather department, once again exposed the unpreparedness of the civic authorities of India’s financial capital.
The rainfall, which is the highest recorded in July in Mumbai since 1974, led to residents of the city and the larger metropolitan region suffering the same fate that they have suffered every monsoon since the 26 July 2005 deluge.
Schools and colleges remained shut as the state government and municipal authorities declared a public holiday on 2 July.
On Tuesday morning, a compound wall of a civic reservoir in Malad East suburb, maintained by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), collapsed because of the incessant showers, killing at least 21 residents of an unauthorized slum that had come up along the wall, and injured nearly 80. A wall collapse at the National Urdu School in Kalyan in Thane district past midnight on Tuesday left three people dead.
The rain fury also hit transport services. A Mumbai-bound SpiceJet flight from Jaipur overshot the runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport at the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, throwing Mumbai-bound air traffic out of gear. Around 70 domestic arrivals and 81 domestic departures were cancelled on Tuesday, said a spokesperson for Mumbai airport. Besides, 26 international flights were diverted, added the spokesperson.
All three suburban train services, western, central, and harbour, were crippled by waterlogging on the tracks and at major stations. The central line, which connects the island city to its northern suburbs, suffered extreme delays from Monday afternoon and was shut down on the following morning. The service resumed on Tuesday evening. The western line between the island city and western suburbs ran amid severe delays. The situation was similar on the harbour line that connects Mumbai with Navi Mumbai. More than 150 city buses operated by the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) reported breakdown because of waterlogging.
The National Disaster Relief Force evacuated nearly 1,000 people at Kranti Nagar in Kurla suburb. The Powai lake started overflowing on Tuesday afternoon after the water level crossed 195 feet.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance came under fire from hapless residents and opposition parties. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had led the BJP’s campaign against the Shiv Sena in the February 2017 Mumbai civic elections, faced opposition fire in the Maharashtra legislature, which had its last day of the monsoon session on Tuesday. Fadnavis ordered a probe into the Malad wall collapse. Outside the legislature, the Shiv Sena faced intense opposition fury after Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut tweeted poetry from his Twitter handle describing the Malad wall collapse as a “mere accident for which the MCGM was not responsible".
Maharashtra Congress president and former chief minister Ashok Chavan criticized the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and singled out Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray for the “civic incompetence" of the Sena-ruled MCGM. Chavan took a dig at Thackeray for taking all newly-elected Shiv Sena MPs to religious places, such as the Kolhapur Mahalaxmi temple and Ayodhya, and said that had the Shiv Sena president concentrated on cleaning up the drainages in Mumbai, the situation would not have been this bad.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant tweeted that Mumbai residents should remember this day when they go out to vote in the forthcoming assembly elections