HEAVY RAIN coupled with gusty winds led to “uncommon” flooding in parts of South Mumbai, which is otherwise known to have a robust and efficient drainage system. Places like Oval Maidan, Marine Drive, and Girgaum Chowpatty were completely submerged even as water entered several housing societies located in these areas. Local residents blamed Metro construction as well as the coastal reclamation project as being “catalysts” for the flooding.
Areas like Fort, Churchgate, Marine Drive, Girgaum, Breach Candy, Pedder Road, which usually do not get waterlogged were flooded. There were power disruptions in these areas and, in a rare instance, water also made its way into heritage buildings near Oval Maidan, Churchgate, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Marine Drive.
Residents of Churchgate and Breach Candy said they had never witnessed waterlogging at this scale in the recent past. They alleged that Metro 3 (Colaba-Seepz) and Coastal Road projects were the cause behind “unprecedented” flooding.
“We have never seen waterlogging in this area. Only time I remember, when areas around Oval Maidan were waterlogged, was in 2005. Recent unplanned and ill-fated metro digging and, of course, BMC’s apathy in blaming tree leaves and twigs for blockage. They relay both sides of our road and, in so doing, may have altered the slope. Our compounds were never subject to such flooding in the past, even when it rained for seven to eight hours on the trot,” said Faredoon Bhujwala, a resident of Fair Lawn, one of the art deco buildings near Oval Maidan, Churchgate. It was constructed between 1920s and 1940s. The water was knee-deep on the ground floor of the building, and in some others, it entered the lift pit and pump house.
Another resident from Marine Drive said in the last 80 years, they had not seen their areas waterlogged. “It is an unprecedented situation. My family has been living here for more than 80 years, but we have not seen such waterlogging. My son has removed 100 buckets of water from the dining hall. I don’t know what has caused so much devastation,” said Nazeen Gamadia, whose mother lives in one of the art deco buildings facing Marine Drive.
At Breach Candy, residents have blamed coastal road construction sites for the flooding. “I have lived here for 17 years, but we have never seen such flooding. Cars parked inside the compound were completely submerged. Reclamation work for the coastal road, which is happening right next to our building, has caused flooding. Drains are blocked due to reclamation. We had to call the fire brigade for help. We had to shut down electricity supply,” said Shloka Nath, a resident of Ocean View building at Breach Candy.
Waterlogging was also reported in Fort. “In the last 40 years, for the first time water has entered my office,” said Zia Sud, who has an office near the High Court building in Fort.
Apart from this, in another rare instance, Girgaum Chowpatty was also flooded. Traffic was disrupted after water from the sea entered the street near Walkeshwar Road.
Later in the evening, the BMC issued a list of shelter homes for people stranded due to waterlogging and heavy rain. The civic body said heavy rain caused flooding in South Mumbai. Late in the evening, the BMC said in the last 12 hours, the island city had received 215 mm rainfall, and that in D ward (Malabar Hill, Grant Road), which also covers part of Girgaum, has recorded the highest at 309 mm rainfall.
“Also, strong winds reaching 101 kmph in Marine Lines since evening have caused trees to fall and damaged traffic signal poles. Civic officials are on high alert to deal with the downpour,” reads the BMC statement.
The heavy rain also brought traffic to a standstill in arterial roads, including Eastern Freeway, a vital connector between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Water at began to rise at the entrance to the freeway on P D’Mello Road on Wednesday afternoon, said a traffic police official. By evening, movement on the freeway completely stopped.
Traffic was also paralysed in South Mumbai as strong winds uprooted numerous trees. Parts of Byculla, Sewri, and Wadala were also inaccessible due to high water levels, with the police diverting traffic from the flooded Dr B A Road.
Traffic also crawled on Marine Drive and Girgaum, while on the Eastern Express Highway, police diverted traffic from the low-lying waterlogged stretch in Sion. Vehicles also moved slowly on the Western Express Highway, where movement was affected by a landslide in Kandivali on Tuesday.
In adjoining Navi Mumbai, three out of nine cranes in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) were damaged owing to inclement weather and “above-normal” winds. The other six cranes, which unload cargo containers from berthed ships onto shore, were unharmed.
“There have been no injuries, however, and everyone is safe. The exact damage is being ascertained,” said a spokesperson for the JNPT, who also added that no vessels were berthed at the time.
The spokesperson added rough weather was a major reason why no one was present at the cargo terminal on Wednesday.
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