Mumbai: Dark clouds enveloped Mumbai city and suburbs on Tuesday and it rained as if monsoon had set in. Only, it is December — a time when Mumbaikars normally brace up for ‘winter’. But with the downpour came plummeting temperatures – 10 degree Celsius or so since yesterday – adding to the mystique of a rain battered city.
But along with the dark clouds came swirling rumours which gained momentum as the Ochki cyclone zeroed in on Gujarat. (In the evening, the cyclone was just 390 km off Surat; it was expected to hit the coastline by midnight.) Fuelling the rumours in the city were fake videos – one of blue waters lashing the sea link, which is 1356.25 feet in height. But as per the Met department, the waves during high tide were 4.5 feet high, not good enough to drench the vehicles on the link.
Another video doing the rounds was of hailstorm hitting the city and the suburbs, with roads littered with white pellets. A WhattsApp post even said Peddar Road was shut, Bandra Linking road was flooded and Bandra-Worli Sea link shut after 3.00pm. None of which were true, forcing authorities to ask citizens to dispel the rumours.
Some parts of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, however, did experience a hailstorm early in the morning, the police confirmed. Disaster management units were on the standby in Mumbai while the BMC issued advisory to citizens not to visit beaches. But it was not all rumour. A pandal indeed fell at Shivaji Park and three people were injured. They were namely Yamunabai Khandare (40), Mahadev Khandare (55) and Nilesh Bhandari (28). All are recuperating and stable, said doctors.
The police patrolled the promenade from Nariman Point to Chowpatty, dissuading revellers from scaling the parapet and risking their lives. The instant the men in Khaki walked off, the revellers were seen rushing to the rain drenched parapet to click selfies in the backdrop of the choppy sea.
Trains ran late on all the three tracks by 20 minutes or so and there were very few cabs on the road. “I had to go to Mumbai Central station from JJ hospital to catch an evening train to Borivali, but no cab was ready to venture in that direction due to the heavy traffic,” said Rajesh Chavan, who had come for his treatment. Traffic on the Eastern and Western Express highway was bumper to bumper. Already, playing chaos with the traffic were the curbs put in place for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s death anniversary on Wednesday.
The Bombay High Court took note of the weather forecast and accordingly issued orders granting some relief to litigants. Only a few important cases were listed in some courts for hearing. To put rumours at rest, the civic body circulated a detailed brief: ‘On the second day Ochki is likely to move North-North Eastward, weaken gradually and cross South Gujarat and north Maharashtra. No impact on Mumbai city and suburbs (expected). All roads & rail traffic is running smoothly, please don’t create panic.”