Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 2005.
Mumbai, Wednesday, 27 July: The “City of Dreams”, Mumbai, came to a standstill yesterday owing to the deluge that has enveloped the city causing massive destruction of life and property alike.
The city has received a record rainfall of 944 mm in the past 24 hours time frame which unabashedly continued today. Caught in the tempest, torrential rainfall and subsequently, the high tide seem to have aggravated the situation. The local train movement was ceased at 2 PM yesterday due to water logging on the railway tracks and is still suspended. Submergence of low-lying areas such as Dharavi, Chembur, and Bandra-Kurla Complex slowed down traffic and also brought it to a complete halt at some places.
Due to the submergence of the power stations and substations, the electricity supply to the city is suspended. The cellular networks have collapsed and the landlines are working only partially. Thousands of school children and daily commuters are stranded as the main arterial routes have become gushing waters.
Thousands of people are caught in transit without food, water or accessibility to toilets. People are making their way around in human chains to brace themselves against the forces of nature and to also avoid invisible pitfalls. Boats have been brought into service to mitigate the misery of those trapped.
Reportedly, 1094 people have died. The roads have become a watery grave as human and animal carcasses are seen floating about in them. People have died by drowning, asphyxiation in cars with auto locks that failed, by electrocution and by being washed away in the incessant water.
An eyewitness reported, “The station was very crowded as local trains were not running and all the long-distance trains had stopped at Borivali. There was no way to go further. I had never seen so many people gathered at a place at a time before. I was very hungry but all the food stalls were empty…. I found just one telephone booth open and it had a very long queue. Each person was allowed just one call for two minutes. I waited more than one hour to call home.”
The government along with the local offices have gotten into action immediately for the relief and rescue operation and to restore peace and tranquility to the city.
The financial cost of the floods is unprecedented and has caused a direct loss of about US $100 million.
Post Scriptum: As a decade passes on, Mumbai doesn’t seem to have learnt its lesson. The enthusiasm for change displayed after the 2005 floods is long gone. Climate scientists predict that Mumbai could flood again and preventive measures need to be implemented as soon as possible.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.