Mumbai : The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is preparing the Mumbai fire brigade for flood rescue operations ahead of the monsoon.

Soon, Mumbaikars can expect a fleet of kayaks, rubber boats and life buoys to help citizens should there be flooding this year. In addition to this, there is also a team of 160 officials who have been trained in flood rescue operations at the National Institute of Water Sports in Goa.

The fire brigade invited bids to purchase items for its flood response teams. On the list are six boats with outboat motors (OBM), 12 kayaks, six water kites, 10 wet suits, water torches, and ring buoys. These will be kept at fire stations in Bandra, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Kurla Kamani, Chembur, Marol and Borivali.

A senior fire brigade official said, “As part of the flood rescue procedure formulated in 2006, following the floods of 2005, we purchased a lot of equipment. But it has not been upgraded since. This is the first time in the past 11 years that we are completely replacing all existing equipment.”

After the 2005 deluge that paralysed the city, the BMC formed a flood rescue team under the control of the Fire Brigade. It trained some firemen for flood rescue operations. There are now six units and a total of 160 officers available for flood response in case of an emergency.

They have all been trained to operate the boats and kayaks, and also in swimming and rescuing. In addition to these officers, there are 36 lifeguards posted at Girgoan, Dadar, Juhu, Versova, Aksa and Gorai beaches.

Last year, Mumbai faced the heaviest downpour on August 29, when it recorded 333 mm of rainfall in merely 12 hours. The city came to a virtual standstill and the government was criticised for not being prepared despite warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department.

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