Red alert for Mumbai; schools closed today in city and Thane

Mumbai: For the second consecutive day, Mumbai turned into an expanse of water with life coming to a grinding halt.

The disruption on the tracks -- on all the three lines -– and the eastern and the western highway led to thousands being marooned in tiny islets – mostly railway platforms, stranded vehicles and elevated structures, which had managed to stay afloat.

Mumbai, of late, is increasingly getting heavy bursts of rain in short spells. In a tweet, Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray said the city has witnessed the "heaviest rainfall so far, with the total rainfall exceeding the whole of September in just about 30 hours".

This was borne out by what the IMD had to say: Of the 150 weather stations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, around 100 recorded over 200 mm rainfall in 24 hours.

But more than anything, it was a telling comment of the city’s rickety infrastructure which had collapsed in less than 18 hours of overnight rain. Incidentally, the IMD has issued a grim warning for the next three days and the city has been shown a red card (read alert). This is a notch higher than the orange alert.

In a knee-jerk response on Wednesday, the state government declared a holiday for all public and private schools in Mumbai and advised people to venture outdoors, only if necessary. However, the warning came a little late in the day and caught students and parents napping.

A similar call can be anticipated for Thursday as well. The Mithi – with monotonous regularity -- crossed the danger threshold yet again and the NDRF, the Indian Navy and the local police had to be deployed to rescue around 1,500 people.

The swollen river’s surging waters flooded most homes in Krantinagar area of Kurla. It was no different in Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, where the rain averaged a whopping 25-30 cm; the Vasai-Virar belt got a staggering 50 cm of rain.

The BMC made arrangements for stranded commuters at various locations near railway stations where they could spend the night; the railways and the NGOs, in turn, made arrangements for their food and snacks.

Ghatkopar, Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj railway stations were bursting at the seams in the evening and commuters were constrained to wade through the submerged tracks.

In several places, big and small vehicles were stranded, forcing occupants to abandon them, which added to the never-ending traffic snarls. Virtually caught unprepared by the overnight downpour, people had to wade in knee-deep water for their daily chores, while in Ganesh Talao area of Kandivali, crafty locals deployed a make-shift raft to ferry residents.

The cascading effect of the traffic jams was felt on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, the Mumbai- Pune Expressway, the Ghodbunder Road, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway and the Mumbai-Navi Mumbai Road.

There was power outage, too, in many areas as residents took to twitter to express their dismay. Rains severely hit the ongoing Ganeshotsav festivities in four districts - Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad - and flood waters seeped into various marquees and pandals.

Shootings of several films and teleserials had to be cancelled as water seeped into studios and outdoor locales sites. Sunny Deol postponed the trailer launch of his son Karan's debut "Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas" while waterlogging was seen outside Amitabh Bachchan's Juhu bungalow 'Prateeksha.'

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