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Monday, July 16, 2018

Marooned in Mumbai: Residents try to pick up pieces

Little can be done when the intensity of rainfall is heavy, the region may see a “repeat” of the situation if it rains relentlessly again, officials claim

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Published: July 12, 2018 2:43:53 am
Waterlogged railway tracks in Nallasopara on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Ganesh Tendulkar)

AS the satellite towns of Vasai, Nallasopara and Virar pick up the pieces after heavy rains marooned the region on Tuesday, both railways and the municipal authorities struggled to find what led to the submerging of tracks at the Nallasopara railway station. Claiming little can be done when the intensity of rainfall is heavy, the region may see a “repeat” of the situation if it rains relentlessly again, officials claim. On Tuesday, Vasai recorded the state’s highest rainfall for the day, 299 mm, while Palghar received 290 mm. More than 24 hours after train services were suspended between Nallasopara and Virar railways stations, the first local train left for Churchgate from Virar at 7.02 am on Wednesday. By 9 am, after water levels on the tracks receded, train services resumed in the section.

However, railway officials struggled to remove water from the tracks at Nallasopara station, where the highest water level was 600 mm by Tuesday evening. While five water pumps were installed to remove water from the tracks, water completely receded from the tracks only by Wednesday afternoon, officials said. “The water entered the tracks at Nallasopara station from the eastern side of the region. At Nallasopara, the stormwater that comes on to the tracks from the east gets flown out into the drains. As the entire city was flooded on Tuesday, there was no place for the water to get out. We had to wait for the rains to stop so that the water could recede on its own,” a senior Western Railway official said.

The average water levels on the tracks at Nallasopara remain between 100-120 mm, despite heavy rainfall in the city. On September 29, 2017, when Mumbai received 330 mm of average rainfall, tracks at Nallasopara were waterlogged. After that, railway officials claimed enough precautionary measures were taken to avoid waterlogging on the tracks. “We had taken sufficient precautionary measures, at every station, to ensure water does not accumulate. On Tuesday, the entire town of Vasai-Virar including Nallasopara was flooded that caused water from parts of the city to get logged on to the tracks,” Sanjay Mishra, Divisional Railway Manager, Western Railway said.

The Railways and the Municipal Corporation are expected to meet on Thursday to discuss ways to avoid waterlogging on the tracks. “After heavy rains on Monday, we had met railway authorities to discuss solutions. The culverts at Nallasopara station are small in size, which prevents water from quickly flowing out of the tracks. We have also observed heavy amount of silt inside their culverts and drains, choking the drainage system,” Satish Lokhande, Municipal Commissioner, Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation said.

Lokhande further said that he plans to borrow high-capacity pumps from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to pump out water from the tracks, at a fast pace. “We will take joint action with the railways to prevent water logging on tracks between Nallasopara and Virar stations,” Lokhande added. Senior railway officials have equally blamed a rise in the construction projects around Nallasopara area, that could have affected smooth drainage of water.

“On Tuesday, it was a flood-like situation. No temporary measures can be undertaken to solve this crisis. If it continues to rain this heavily again, there could be a repeat of Tuesday’s situation,” a senior railway official said. On Wednesday, fast trains were disrupted in the section as trains ran with a minimum restriction speed. As many as 130 train services were cancelled and 40 services were delayed.

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