Early Tuesday, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) moved additional eight teams to Mumbai and Thane as the area continued to be lashed by heavy rainfall. Within hours, the teams were called into action following the collapse of a retaining wall in Malad and alarmingly high floodwater levels in Kurla.“We had decided to move five more teams to Mumbai and two to Thane to supplement the efforts of our forces here,” said Sachidanand Gawade, NDRF Deputy Commandant (5th Battalion). Three NDRF teams are permanently stationed at the Andheri Sports Complex.
Gawade added that the decision to call in reinforcements was taken following forecasts from the India Meteorological Department of extremely heavy rainfall for three days. “We knew that we would need more people on the ground in Mumbai if the rainfall coincided with high tide and caused the level of the Mithi river to rise,” he said.
Even as teams rushed to carry out search and rescue operation at Kurar in Malad East, where retaining a wall collapsed, the force assisted the BMC and the Navy in evacuating trapped residents of Kranti Nagar in Kurla, which lies along the river. At Kurar, the NDRF sent in fresh teams to replace the first responders.
The challenge lies in Thane and Palghar districts, with their dense population in urban pockets and multiple municipal corporations. “We need to have teams close by if something happens in Vasai and Virar. Thane district is too large to be covered by teams stationed in Mumbai,” said Gawade.