Heavy rains lash Mumbai, Konkan for fifth day

June 10th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 10 (IANS) Heavy rains continued to lash Maharashtra’s coastal Konkan region comprising Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg for the fifth consecutive day Tuesday. Barring stray rain-related incidents, life in the country’s commercial capital remained near normal. Offices functioned as usual, schools and colleges re-opened, traffic moved albeit slowly, suburban trains ran late, low-lying areas were flooded and over two dozen trees were uprooted.

In the past 10 days, Colaba in south Mumbai recorded 364.80 mm rainfall, while suburban Santa Cruz notched 421.80 mm of rainfall till Tuesday morning.

In the past five days, Mumbai recorded 207.6 mm rains in the city and 274.3 mm in the suburbs. This is almost 35 percent of the total rainfall (749.8 mm) recorded during the entire month of June 2007.

According to Mumbai Weather Bureau chief Sathidevi, the forecast till Thursday is a heavy spell of rains or thundershowers.

Though caught unaware by the early onset of the wet season, the Maharashtra government’s preparations to ensure disaster management had started way back in January.

A senior state government official told IANS that the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) started meetings six months ago to tackle the pre-monsoon preparedness in Mumbai and the rest of the state.

The DMA ensured that each government agency prepared a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to tackle any major disaster, without wasting time in co-ordinating with other agencies.

Apart from big cities like Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune, the government has activated disaster management teams at the village level all over the state, the official said.

This was in view of a chaotic situation witnessed among different official agencies and passing the buck during the Mumbai floods of July 26, 2005.

The authorities have now come up with friendly advice including tips to motorists to carry a small hammer, a mini-fire extinguisher, drinking water and even light dry snacks or biscuits.

Officials also recommend that motorists carry prescribed medicines or a basic first-aid kit in their vehicles for such emergencies.

During the 2005 flood, many motorists had kept the doors and windows closed to prevent the floodwaters from seeping inside the vehicles.

Instead of saving their lives, it actually claimed several victims. The doors and windows got jammed and many motorists drowned while in their vehicles.

Investigations later revealed that the victims had nothing to break open the tough shatterproof windowpanes that could have saved them.

Many Mumbaikars now opt to travel in car-pools, or use the public transport systems like suburban trains and the BEST buses.

“Car pooling has other advantages. Apart from offering safety in numbers, it helps us to better co-ordinate survival efforts during such emergencies. We can share things like cell phones. Many people could not contact their families since their phone batteries had gone low,” said Juhu resident, Asim Shah, head of the Bharatiya Arogya Nidhi Hospital.

Despite all individual and collective precautions, Mumbaikars still have to contend with bad roads, water-logging in at least 42 officially identified flood-prone areas, and 58 areas prone to landslides.

The civic authorities have also served eviction notices to 667 families living in dangerous or dilapidated buildings that may not stand the impact of the current monsoon.

According to police sources, there have been over 25 rain-related deaths across the state in the past five days.

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