MUMBAI: The disruption of normal life due to heavy monsoon rains in the city on Friday not only washed away Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s plans of celebrating the 50th Foundation Day of his party, but also laid bare the falsity of his claim of good governance by civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The city saw 300 mm of rains in just 12 hours, the highest recorded in June since 2005, which is reminiscent of the 2005 deluge that claimed over 1,000 lives.
The rains on Friday killed four -- two succumbed to electrocution and two died as they were caught under falling trees.
Logged water has forced the city into a grinding halt, with torrential rains along with high velocity winds resulting in the cancellation of local train services, leaving thousands of commuters stranded. It has also affected vehicular traffic and delayed airline flight operations.
One flight each of Indigo and Jet Airways was diverted to Ahmedabad, while a Go Air flight was diverted to Vadodara. Most of the trains on Central Railway chugging between the city and Pune were cancelled.
Several long route trains were delayed and the services of the Western Railway were disrupted.
The rains caused severe water logging in low lying areas such as Hindmata, Mumbai Central,
Dadar, Lower Parel, Kurla, Chembur, Bandra and Andheri. The Meteorological Department has predicted that the heavy rains will last for two more days.
The Bombay High Court announced a day’s holiday in view of the rains. All city courts were closed down on Friday following the HC decision. Mumbai University has deferred BA, MA and MSc exams following the disruption caused by heavy rains. The BMC disaster control room has stated that 33 trees have, so far, been uprooted in the city by heavy winds that accompanied the rains.
The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) discontinued power supply to several parts in south Mumbai after two people, a 65-year-old and a five-year-old lost their lives due to electrocution.
The Shiv Sena, which has been ruling the BMC for 22 years, came under sharp attack from the Opposition as well as its ruling partner BJP after the rains flooded the city’s streets.
Uncleaned drains further worsened water logging problems in the city. The BMC had earlier claimed that it had cleaned 93 percent of the city’s drains.
Meanwhile, city Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam took a dig at the Sena, mocking its slogan ‘Karun Dakhavale’ (We did it). “Yes, they did it. They converted Mumbai into a pond,” Nirupam said.
Thackeray, who was scheduled to address a gathering of party workers in Shanmukhanand Hall in suburban Matunga, called off the party’s Foundation Day celebrations. He, however, refused to blame the BMC for the water logging.
“The BMC alone cannot be blamed for that. There were heavy rains along with winds and tides, so the drainage lines got choked up. Mumbai needs a single governing body to take care of its needs,” he said.
Apart from the BMC, the state government controlled Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) too plays a major role in the city’s infrastructure governance. City Guardian Minister and Sena leader Subhash Desai admitted that the inefficient work of drainage cleaning led to water logging. “I have ordered the authorities to find out who was responsible for the shoddy work,” he said.
Leaders of the BJP and Sena thronged the BMC’s disaster control room, which monitors the situation from its headquarters at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to take a stock of the situation. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s visit to the control room put Sena leaders in a tizzy and many of them, including senior ministers Diwakar Raote and Deepak Sawant, stayed put fearing that the CM would use the situation as a photo opportunity to show that the BJP was controlling the situation while the Sena celebrated its Foundation Day.
The BJP’s Vinod Tawde, Guardian Minister for Mumbai Suburban district, and Ashish Shelar also visited the control room. They were joined by Thackeray and his son Aditya.