In the last 24 hours, Mumbai has recorded the heaviest rainfall since 2005. A red alert has now been sounded and more rain is predicted as parts of the city come to a standstill. The deluge has left 19 people dead so far and the city’s transportation system has been hit.
ThePrint asks: Mumbai rains: Is BJP-Shiv Sena govt going for showpiece infrastructure ignoring basic issues?
Easy to blame Fadnavis govt – but can’t do much if it rains more than 400 mm in five hours
Spokesperson, BJP Maharashtra
The state government is trying to do everything it can to control the floods, but when there is over 400 mm of rainfall in less than five hours, like Monday, then all arrangements collapse. Mumbai has witnessed rainfall like this only for the third time, after 1974 and 2005. The provisions allow for only 150 mm of water to be pumped out, therefore when it rains like this, there will, of course, be problems.
It is easy to do politics and criticise the government constantly, which is exactly what the opposition is doing. The previous NCP-Congress government completely ignored Mumbai. Not only did they not have long-term plans but also did not develop any infrastructure to tackle the Mumbai rains.
The administration is taking the required measures to contain the floods. We have declared a public holiday to ensure that there are no casualties. The state government has also ensured that there are emergency personnel on the roads to help people who are stranded. Infrastructure wise, we have launched the Brimstowad project to construct seven pumping stations throughout Mumbai. Five have been already been constructed and we are working on completing the construction of the other two.
People of Mumbai should remember these rainy days before the elections
General Secretary & Spokesperson, Maharashtra Congress
Each time it rains, there is chaos in the Mumbai administration. The Public Works Department and the BMC constantly keep blaming each other. Their inability to deal with the rains is also a result of corruption in the administration.
People should remember these rainy days when the city is paralysed because during the elections all of this is forgotten. Elections are not fought on development or how the BMC has performed, but on communal lines – not only is hatred incited between Hindus and Muslims, but language issues are raked up too. Both the BJP and Shiv have not been paying enough attention to the problems of Mumbai.
It is also important to understand that the BMC’s incompetence is not only highlighted during the monsoon when the city is flooding, but throughout the year. Flyovers are constantly collapsing and buildings fall and catch fire. Half of the city is run by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is run by the state government, therefore there’s another blame game between the Sena and the government. Ultimately, it is the people who suffer.
Things are slowly improving and we are now able to drain water faster than a few years ago
Shiv Sena corporator
People think however much it may rain there should be no water-logging in Mumbai at all. But given Mumbai’s topography, this goal is difficult to achieve. Earlier, if it rained 20 mm, our drains were good enough to absorb it. Slowly, we increased the capacity to 25 mm per hour. Now, under Brimstowad, the capacity has been increased to 50 mm per hour. But sometimes, when the rain is unprecedented, like on July 26, 2005, or today, the capacity of our drains is woefully inadequate and it results in waterlogging.
Things are slowly improving and once the big projects that are underway, such as the coastal road or the Metro lines, are completed, things will improve further. There will be lesser inconvenience to commuters. As a corporator, I can never claim that there will be no water-logging in Mumbai ever at all, because the composition of the city is unfortunately such. But a few years ago, if it took four hours for water at certain chronic spots to recede, now it takes about an hour.
There are many incidences of water logging in slums and water entering houses. This is because, at a lot of places where the water is supposed to drain off to nallahs and water bodies, there are encroachments, which frankly, need to be removed. It is true that these encroachments at times have political support, but if the administration puts its mind to it, it can very well take action. No political leader will create a hurdle then.
Problem is politics has taken over governance – we need a minister who understands Mumbai
We seem obsessed with grand plans like smart cities and big projects, but we lack the basic understanding of a city and the importance of planning. Mumbai has received similar rains in the past 200 years. Yet, we don’t have topographical maps, flood contour maps.
We are investing in big-ticket projects, statues and memorials, which politicians talk up and people demand, but there is terrible under-investment in basic infrastructure.
For example, take the Brimstowad project. Fourteen years after the 2005 deluge, we have still not been able to complete it. If you can’t manage basic drainage, then what can you do?
The problem is, in today’s system, governance is captured by politics. Politics has become the whole and sole reason for being in power, not good governance. We ideally need a dedicated minister for Mumbai who understands the city, has technical sound knowledge of planning norms and whose responsibility is to put it to use instead of attending bridge inaugurations and groundbreaking ceremonies.
The mayor too should be someone with a strong knowledge of the city, and who is empowered and accountable instead of being a figurehead chosen based on caste and community calculations.
By Fatima Khan, Revathi Krishnan and Manasi Phadke
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