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Same old story,rain cripples city

It was another rained-out working day for the financial capital as nearly 200 mm rainfall in 24 hours brought the city’s trains to a halt...

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
July 15, 2009 3:51:19 am

A day rained out : Suburban trains grind to halt,road traffic gets painfully slow,floods in low-lying suburbs

It was another rained-out working day for the financial capital as nearly 200 mm rainfall in 24 hours brought the city’s trains to a halt,rendered road traffic painfully slow and submerged large parts of the low-lying suburbs. While the morning hours saw weary commuters stuck in long pile-ups on flooded roads,with Western Railway running behind schedule and the Central Railway almost paralysed,south Mumbai’s commercial districts were deserted by early evening as Mumbaikars rushed home before more services were disrupted.

Even without the attendant fear of very high tide levels,the 165 mm rainfall in the western suburbs was adequate to throw transportation systems into disarray. Chronic flooding spots like Hindmata,Milan Subway,Andheri Subway,Khar Subway and Kurla were under about two feet of water,once again exposing claims by civic authorities that the city is ready to tackle the monsoon.

The Mithi River,among the prime causes for the widespread destruction caused by the deluge of July 2005,for the first time this monsoon crossed its danger level of 2.7 metres. While 140 families from the adjoining Kranti Nagar slum were evacuated,the water kept the Kurla stretch of the arterial Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg flooded through most part of the day,leading to huge traffic jams in the central suburbs.

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The rainfall data for 24 hours ending Tuesday evening was 165.7 mm in Santacruz and 41.8 mm in Colaba.

At Kranti Nagar,the Navy and the Fire Brigade were ready for rescue work. Joint municipal commissioner (disaster management) S S Shinde said the swollen river reached its highest point of 3.1 metres at 3 pm. “We started evacuating people when the water level reached 2.9 metres. The Navy and firemen were on alert then.” As the intensity of the downpour diminished around 3.15 pm,the water level receded and the alert was called off.

The BMC’s disaster management department recorded flooding at 18 spots across the city,including Gangawadi in Ghatkopar,Kurla station,Andheri subway,Jarimari road,St Mary’s Road in Vile Parle,Link Road post office and Hasnabad Lane in Santacruz,Marol-Maroshi Road,Vakola,Tilak Nagar in Chembur,Tagore Nagar in Vikhroli,opposite Santacruz police station,Veera Desai road,Railway colony in Bandra,Milan Subway,Khar subway,Andheri-Kurla road to Marol and Link road in Bandra. A total of 158 high-capacity pumps were pressed into service in these low-lying areas,but with little success.

Savita Rijhwani,a resident of Kalyan,was stuck for three hours in traffic while travelling to the western suburb of Goregaon. “The traffic was extremely bad,especially in Ghatkopar and Aarey road. Since the trains were not running,I had to take the road,but the rains and waterlogging along with traffic made the ride extremely tiresome.”

Over 200 train services suspended
Rain disrupted the suburban train services,forcing the railways to suspend over 200 services in the day.

The Central Railway was the worst-hit as the tracks were submerged,especially on the Dadar-Thane section. “Following waterlogging on tracks,the Dadar-Thane section was non-operational from 2.30 pm to 5.20 pm. Even the Wadala-Vashi section had to be shut,” chief spokesperson Srinivas Mudgerikar said.

The CR suspended 180 services in the day,but operated 40 additional services between Thane-Karjat,Thane-Kasara and Vashi-Panvel sections. It also rescheduled eight long distance trains.

The cleaning of a nullah near the Kurla car shed and putting up six pumps to drain out water from the tracks between Kurla and Sion,however,proved to be of little effect. “There was water all over at Kurla; we tried to pump the water out of the tracks,but it proved to be futile,” Mudgerikar said. “A helpline number 10720 was activated for the assistance of commuters.”

The services of the Western Railway were also affected owing to failure of signals at Bandra,Vile Parle and Charni Road. “As the water had accumulated on the tracks,this led to failure of signals. When the signalling system fails,it has a direct impact on the suburban services,” said chief spokesperson S S Gupta.

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST),however,ran 96 additional services,which gave some respite to the city commuters. “We only diverted bus services through the Milan Subway as it was flooded,” a spokesperson said.

Some good news though,heavy downpour in catchment areas
Tuesday’s downpour brought some good news for the parched catchment areas. All the six lakes supplying water to Mumbai — four in Thane and Shahapur and two in the city—- received good rainfall on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s rainfall has added a total of 10,000 million litres of water in the lakes,which can suffice the city’s needs for another four days. Upper Vaitarna and Tansa,whose levels had fallen below the drawable level this monsoon,recorded an increase of 0.48 metres and 0.12 metres on Tuesday (see table).

Meanwhile,the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is reviewing its plan for cloud seeding. Additional Municipal Commissioner Anil Diggikar said,“Water levels in the lakes are above drawable limits. We are therefore reconsidering whether to carry out cloud seeding or not. We are consulting the IMD and we will decide on cloud seeding depending on their forecast for the next two days.”

Air traffic too takes a hit
Heavy rain and poor visibility conditions severely affected air traffic to and from the Mumbai airport and also helicopter services from the Juhu aerodrome. Visibility conditions at the Mumbai airport remained just above 600 metres for most part of the day,causing long delays in flight arrivals and departures. Waterlogging on the airstrip of the Juhu aerodrome,meanwhile,forced authorities to issue a notice to airmen as helicopter operations were suspended in the afternoon.

As of 6:30 pm,there was an average departure delay of 45 minutes at the airport and an arrival delay of 30 minutes. During the day,the departure delays had gone up to an hour. According to figures released by the Mumbai airport,84 departure flights and 34 arrival flights were delayed. “Overall,there were 10 ‘go-arounds’ and one flight diversion,” a spokesperson said.

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