Torrential rain accompanied by strong winds pummelled Mumbai on August 29th, disrupting rail, road and air services, uprooting trees, swamping homes, and bringing the megapolis and satellite towns to their knees. People’s woes were compounded by the high tide that prevented natural drainage of water into the sea. Meteorological department sources said Mumbai recorded copious rain of 65 mm in just three hours.
Thousands of vehicles were stranded on arterial roads in Lower Parel, Dadar, Kurla, Andheri, Khar West, Ghatkopar, Sion and Hindmata areas that were under knee to waist deep water for several hours, many having broken down.
Suburban rail services, the lifeline of the metropolis, were thrown out of gear.
Train services on all three suburban railway lines– Central, Western and Harbour lines–have been paralysed. Having waited for hours on end with water showing no signs of receding, fidgety passengers were seen jumping off stationary trains and walking along the tracks to their destinations.
Commuters were seen standing under knee deep water on the steps of buses in low lying areas like Parel. Traffic crawled at snail’s pace on important roads, including the Eastern and Western Express Highway, Sion-Panvel highway and LBS Marg.
Prime Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the situation arising due to incessant rains and promised all possible support from the Centre.
“Spoke to Maharashtra CM @Dev_Fadnavis on the situation arising due to incessant rain in Mumbai & surrounding areas,” Modi tweeted.
“Centre assures all possible support to the government of Maharashtra in mitigating the situation due to heavy rains in parts of the state,” he added. The metropolis has received heavy rainfall since last night. Between 8.30 am and 12 pm on August 29th, the city received 85 mm rainfall, Sudhir Naik, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, told PTI.
Naval helicopters have been kept on standby to meet any eventuality and flood rescue teams and divers are also ready for deployment, a Navy spokesperson said.
“Seaking 42 C ready for day/night Search and Rescue. Medical teams and Divers ready for immediate deployment,” the spokesperson tweeted.
Five flood rescue teams and two diving teams are also ready to render assistance at different locations across Mumbai, the spokesperson said.
Schools and colleges have been ordered shut following forecast of heavy rainfall, Education Minister Vinod Tawde said. According to the civic body’s disaster management cell, at least 20 incidents of trees fall and one of wall collapse were reported from across the city but there were no casualties.
“Heavy waterlogging expected in coming hours due to heavy showers coupled with high tide. Pls chk ur route before venturing out,” the Mumbai police said in a tweet, advising people to remain indoors.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the State Disaster Management Control (SDMC) room and took stock of the situation.
“I have asked employees at Mantralaya, the state secretariat to leave for their homes. Employees in other offices have also been allowed to head to their homes. We have advised (private) offices to allow their employees to leave for their homes early,” Fadnavis said.
He said the situation was being monitored closely and necessary advisories would be issued from time to time. Aircraft have stopped landing at the city airport after 4 pm but were taking off, officials said. Flight operations at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport saw delay and disruptions since morning.
Till evening, the airport saw six flight cancellations, 10 go-arounds and 10 diversions, airport sources said.
While the main runway of the the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Aiport (CSIA) is operational, the nearby aerodrome at Juhu has been shut as it is very close to the Arabian Sea, sources said. The airport officials said on an average all the flights were delayed by over 45 minutes.
“Heavy rain and strong winds have drastically reduced visibility leading to diversions and go arounds even though the main runway is open,” a Mumbai airport source told PTI.
“Areas such as Mumbai, south Gujarat, Konkan, Goa and west Vidarbha will get extremely heavy rainfall in the next 24 to 48 hours. It is a serious situation. We have issued necessary warnings to the departments concerned, including airports,” A K Srivastav, head of climate monitoring and analysis at IMD Pune, told PTI.
“The status of the weather system, which has brought heavy showers over the Mumbai region, has been upgraded from ‘well marked low pressure’ to ‘depression’. It means it is set to bring more rains. Hence, we have predicted an extremely heavy rainfall,” he said.
In the morning, commuters bound for offices were stranded at several suburban stations. In absence of train services, major suburban stations were overcrowded. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus was chock-a-block with commuters anxiously waiting for trains to head home.
Charan Singh, Director, India Meteorological Department, said a ‘Red’ warning has been issued for the next 24 hours for the city and adjoining areas, indicating there could be very heavy rainfall. He said the city and surrounding areas would continue to receive heavy rainfall over the next 2-3 days.