By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Aug 29 (IANS) Torrential rains lashed Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad and other parts of Maharashtra for the fourth consecutive day on tuesday, severely affecting normal life and paralysing the lifelines — local train and bus services — in the state capital and leading the state government and civic authorities to sound a high alert.
Expressing concern over the rain situation in Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the people of the state to “stay safe” and take all essential precautions while speaking to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take stock of the developments.
“The centre assures all possible support to the Maharashtra Government in mitigating the situation due to heavy rains in parts of the state,” Modi said in a series of tweets.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that in one hour, Mumbai recorded a staggering 70 mm rainfall, while it touched 100 mm between 8.30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Giving the figures till 3 p.m., the BMC said Mumbai received 106 mm rainfall in about six hours, while the eastern suburbs got 78.5 mm and the western suburbs notched 85 mm during the same period.
The state government has requisitioned the services of five disaster management teams, including three from Pune, and a holiday has been declared for all college and schools on Wednesday, said Education Minister Vinod Tawde.
The India Meteorological Department has forecast aceheavy to very heavy rains” for Mumbai and entire Konkan region during the next 24 hours owing to a “low pressure” area over south Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh, which was expected to be upgraded to a “deep depression”.
The BMC appealed to people not to step out of their home unless absolutely necessary, while the entire civic force — Mumbai Police, Fire Brigade and other agencies — were on high alert to combat the situation.
Since Tuesday morning, many parts of Mumbai and suburbs were inundated with up to three to four feet of water on the highways, main and arterial roads, bylanes, housing complexes, railway stations and even the Mumbai Airport.
However even with more than 180 trees and half a dozen walls collapsing in different parts of the city, flooding and waterlogging, there were no casualties.
Around 6.30 a.m. the rains triggered a landslide in adjoining Thane district, leading to derailment of 10 coaches of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express but there were no casualties.
The torrential rains have hit the immersion ceremonies on the fifth day of the Ganeshotsav on Tuesday, with many marquees deciding to postpone it by two days.
Suburban local trains were massively hit with disruption in services due to flooding on the railway tracks at several places.
The Central Railway mainline was completely suspended for over four hours, Harbour Line was completely down, the Western Railway worked slowly and erratically, besides disruptions on the Konkan Railway.
Lakhs of commuters including students, were stranded in trains, railway stations or at bus stops. Many failed to reach their destinations and were compelled to return to their homes on foot, walking scores of kilometres from various points in the city.
All the gurudwaras, several Hindu and Jain temples, Ganeshotsav marquees, mosques and dargahs, churches, NGOs, charitable organisations, housing complexes and individuals made arrangements to offer food and beverages to the weary and stranded commuters, and arrangements to rest for the night.
Waterlogging has been reported from Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Vile Parle, Santacruz, Bandra, Matunga, Dadar, Elphinstone, Mumbai Central, Mazagaon, Lalbaug, Parel, Sion, Wadala, Kurla, Bhandup and other areas.
The rains affected normal operations at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport with flights getting delayed by around 35 minutes mainly on account of low visibility.
Seven incoming flights were made to go around till landing permission was granted while three flights were diverted, though operations continued.
Domestic and international passengers bound for the airport to catch their flights faced huge problems in reaching on time due to massive traffic snarls on the highways and main roads.
Mumbai IMD head K.S. Hosalikar said that in three hours since 8.30 a.m., Mumbai suburbs recorded a whopping 86 mm of rains, while Colaba recorded around 16 mm of rains.
“It’s not a July 26, 2005 type situation as the cloud cover over Mumbai is not that thick. However, we have issued weather warnings to the disaster units of Maharashtra government and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation,” Hosalikar told media persons.
He said the IMD has forecast heavy to very heavy rains for at least the next 24 hours all over Maharashtra, especially over coastal North Konkan, Mumbai and other parts of the state.
The IMD warning says “intense precipitation likely to occur over Mumbai city, suburbs, Dahanu and Raigad during the latter part today (Tuesday)”.
In Mumbai areas which recorded the heaviest rains are: Matunga 253 mm, Parel 230 mm, Wadala 260mm, Bandra 210 mm, Vile Parle and Santacruz A212 mm, Worli -235, and Kurla 208 mm, said a BMC Disaster Control official.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])
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