Year after year, Mumbai’s drainage system collapses abjectly, flooding large areas of the metropolis and putting to shame its planners and administrators. A paper prepared by more than two dozen experts in The Journal of Climate Change published in 2011 had said that by upgrading the drainage system in Mumbai, losses associated with a one-in-100-year flood event could be reduced by 70 per cent. Yet, other than paying lip service to the festering issue, precious little has been done to solve the problem. On Wednesday, large parts of south Mumbai were inundated after the island city reported its heaviest single-day downpour in August in 46 years with 293.8 mm of rainfall. Experts say the island city’s drainage system is 140 years old and in need of focussed attention for decades.
On Wednesday, many areas in south Mumbai, which usually do not see waterlogging, were flooded for hours. According to the India Meteorological Department, in nine hours, its Colaba observatory recorded 225 mm of rainfall. The last time the area had seen heavier rain than Wednesday’s was in 1974. Areas like Churchgate, Marine Drive, Fort, Girgaum, Khetwadi, Walkeshwar Road, J J Marg, Gol Deol, Bhendi Bazaar, Kalbadevi were flooded and water entered several houses. Indeed, we cannot be talking of being a regional power if such basic issues are not attended to and the city remains set for future catastrophes. It is time that the civic authorities in Mumbai wake up to the grim realities. The problem needs to be tackled on a war footing. Whatever resources are required must be made available on priority by the Centre and Maharashtra state. It would be suicidal for governments at the Centre and the State to surrender to the vagaries of nature and not deal with the problem head-on.