Watershed Wednesday: 4th rainiest September since '74

Mumbai was in spate on Wednesday after a sustained onslaught of heavy rain overnight, leaving many parts of the city in waist-deep water and disrupting rail and road traffic on Wednesday. The city received its fourth highest rainfall in September since 1974, officials from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Rains across the island city and the western suburbs picked up late on Tuesday evening. There were intense spells across Mumbai overnight, a civic official said.

Putting it in perspective, Maharashtra Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray tweeted that floodwater equivalent to Tulsi Lake had been pumped out in the course of the day.

Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had asked all offices and establishments in the city, barring essential services, to be shut on Wednesday because of the IMD's forecast of "heavy to very heavy rains" in the city. He had appealed to Mumbaikars not to step out of their homes, except in case of an emergency.

Suburban train services of Central Railway and Western Railway were suspended but resumed later as the intensity of the downpour waned. Railways also cancelled or rescheduled many long-distance trains following the heavy rains.

There was waterlogging in Sion-Kurla and Chunabhatti- Kurla sections and traffic was suspended on CSMT-Thane and CSMT-Vashi sections for safety reasons, a CR official said.

As usual, the 30 per cent commuting workforce bore 100 per cent of the brunt. Even though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had declared a holiday on Wednesday morning, non-civic employees were on the roads by early morning. Since travel on local trains continues to be restricted to essential service providers only, those living in the suburbs and satellite cities have been leaving home earlier than usual, to account for the long waiting period at bus stops.

Sales executive Puroshotam Dhanuka, 47, who travels to Mahalaxmi from Kandivli thrice a week, since his job doesn't give him the option of working from home, set off for work around 6.30am, amid heavy rain.

"I left earlier than usual today, anticipating be traffic snarls. I had to wait for a half-hour for my bus. But we couldn't go beyond Link Road as the bus broke down and I was forced to foot it back home, which I did, reaching in the afternoon," Dhanuka told The Free Press Journal.

BEST buses are the only public transport service currently available to most Mumbaikars. But by 8.30am on Wednesday, the transport undertaking had diverted nearly 90 of its routes, due to waterlogging in the city.

"I waited two hours for a bus, then gave up and went home," said Reshma Desai, a corporate sector employee who had to chair a meeting on Wednesday.

Commuters also complained of fleecing by autorickshaw drivers as well.

"Seeing our plight, autorickshaws began overcharging us. We paid close to Rs 200 for less than a 5km distance in Andheri," said Kumar Venkataramani, a freelancer.

"The frequency of buses was poorer than usual. I was able to catch a bus after an hour's wait and my journey was 2.5 times longer than usual," said businessman Bilal Masood.

BEST officials admitted, on account of the rain, the undertaking had pressed only 67 per cent of its fleet in service on Wednesday, as opposed to the near-95 per cent strength of operations daily.

"Many of our routes had been suspended since Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning, the BMC had declared a holiday, so bus turnout was lower," said an official.

At many bus stops, especially in areas like Dadar and Parel, there were longer queues and no sooner than a bus arrived, people would push their way in, with scarce regard for social distancing.

"I came to Worli from Bandra and I had to change buses at Mahim. There were at least 50 people in single-decker buses and most of those within were not even wearing masks," said private firm executive Nishant Mittal.

"Passengers wouldn't listen to us and forced themselves inside. We could barely enforce the 50 per cent capacity rule on Wednesday" a BEST conductor rued.

"There were several bus breakdowns due to waterlogged roads, making passengers frustrated," said a depot manager.

"As many as 30 BEST buses broke down and. maintenance staff could only tow away 23 buses, with seven buses remaining unattended till evening as mechanics were unavailable," said BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade.

"These buses were plying in low-lying areas like King's Circle and Hindmata. The seven buses will be brought to a nearby depot only after water levels recede," said an official from the maintenance department.

At Nair Hospital in central Mumbai, the Covid-19 outpatient department (OPD) set up in a temporary shed in the compound was shifted to the casualty ward inside the building, after the compound was waterlogged, hospital authorities said. The normal OPD at the hospital has been suspended temporarily and only emergency cases are being examined in the casualty ward.

Suburbs like Goregaon, Malad and Dahisar were waterlogged, police said. "Around 6 inches high water logging at Andheri Subway.

However traffic has been resumed and police personnel from DN Nagar Police Station are on the spot to ensure convenient commute for Mumbaikars," Mumbai Police tweeted.

Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are on standby in view of heavy rains in Mumbai, Thane and Palghar districts, Maharashtra Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said.

MORE RAIN ON THE WAY: Mumbai received one of the highest showers in the last 24 hours of this monsoon season and more rainfall is likely, according to the India Meteorology Department (IMD) Mumbai centre Deputy Director General K S Hosalikar.

The Santacruz observatory received 286.4 mm showers during the 24-hour period ending at 8.30 am on Wednesday, another IMD official said. "Today's rainfall of 286.4 mm is the fourth highest in Mumbai since 1974," he added. As per the records of the Santacruz observatory since 1974, 318.2mm rainfall in 24 hours on September 23, 1981, 312.4mm rainfall on September 23, 1993 and 303.7mm rainfall on September 20, 2017, the official said. Several parts of Mumbai received more than 120 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours, the department said.

The Ram Mandir area (near Jogeshwari) received 298mm rainfall, while Dahisar received 190mm rainfall during the period."Most of the rainfall in Mumbai was received after late Tuesday night," the IMD official said.

Multiple weather systems were responsible for heavy downpour over Mumbai and suburbs. A cyclonic circulation is persisting over the North coast of Maharashtra, the east-west shear zone is also running in the close proximity of Mumbai, said private weather agency, Skymet.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday suspended hearings, including all virtual hearings, scheduled for the day, in view of the heavy rainfall in the city and suburbs.

Aaditya Thackeray visited the headquarters of the BMC, controlled by his party Shiv Sena, to take stock of the situation after overnight torrential rains flooded parts of Mumbai and disrupted rail and road traffic on Wednesday.

In a series of tweets, Thackeray said parts of Mumbai had received over 83 per cent of the annual normal September rainfall in less than 2 hours.

"Flood water pumped out=1 Tulsi lake (reservoir supplying water to Mumbai," he tweeted.

"However, 15 years on, with more climate change and increasing extreme weather events, and as we await final clearances on Mahul and Mogra Nallah pumping stations, we have begun to look at creating underground flood control tanks and rain water percolation systems," he wrote on Twitter.

"Extreme weather events now aren't rare anymore. Climate change is a real thing. We've seen record break temperatures, rainfall, storms, droughts and floods in our country over the past few years," said Thackeray. "We need to act on climate change mitigation and action as a larger action plan.

"The 2005 cloudburst (in Mumbai) resulted in the BRIMSTOWAD project of pumping stations and increasing storm water drain capacity to 50mm/hour.

The Brihanmumbai Storm Water Disposal (BRIMSTOWAD) project was started after the 2005 deluge to overhaul Mumbais decades-old drains.

ROAD TRAFFIC HIT:. Some of the key roads most affected were the Western Express Highway, the Eastern Freeway, the Bandra Reclamation Road among others. The Oberoi Mall in Goregaon (E), off the WEH, reported major waterlogging issues as three- and two-wheelers were submerged due to heavy rains.

Mumbai Police tweeted that there was waterlogging near Byculla police station, J. J. Bridge, Minara masjid Junction, Dadar railway station , Dadar TT, Bawla compound, Goldeval Kapda Gali, Wadi Port junction, Hindmata junction, Netaji Palkar Road.

Similar waterlogging issues were observed at Alankar Petrol Pump, Khetwadi, Girgaon, Grant Road E, Uranwala Street Alibhai Premji Marg, Grant Road (W), Slator Road , Cotton Green. Meanwhile, the flyover at Ram Mandir Road was closed for vehicular movement due to overflowing of the Oshiwara river.

TRAINS AFFECTED: Central Railway cancelled the Manmad-Mumbai-Manmad special train on September 23, due to heavy rain and waterlogged tracks. The zonal railway also rescheduled LTT-Guwahati special, CSMT-KSR Bengaluru special, CSMT-Lucknow special and Mumbai-Bhubaneswar special train for later on Wednesday.

Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, CR, said suburban services had been suspended from 5 am. "Due to heavy rain and waterlogging in Sion-Kurla and Chunabhatti-Kurla, traffic has been suspended on CSMT-Thane and CSMT-Vashi sections for safety reasons, " he said.

He further said that special shuttle services were run between Thane-Kasara, Thane-Karjat and Vashi-Panvel stations, while several long-distance trains were rescheduled.

Meanwhile, WR on Wednesday morning had also suspended all its services between Churchgate and Bandra Railway Station due to waterlogging on railway tracks on Wednesday morning. “The suburban services between Churchgate-Bandra were again suspended from 9.30am, but all special suburban services are running between Bandra & Dahanu Road,” said Sumit Thakur, CPRO, WR.

“WR's suburban special services fully restored between Churchgate & Bandra on the slow corridor as the down slow line restored with the first train leaving Churchgate for Virar at 4pm and the Up slow line restored, with the first train departing from Bandra to Churchgate at 14.55pm. Now WR's special suburban services are running on all four lines,” Thakur said.

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