The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rain dance & distress

Mumbai, Aug. 5: Aishwarya Rai shook a leg with Vivek Oberoi and children splashed their way to school. But for the rest of the city, it was a crawl back to its feet after battling continuous rain for seven days.

The little respite Maharashtra and Gujarat got from the weather gods today was short-lived with the meteorological department forecasting another spell of heavy rain in the two states.

The disaster management cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation went into a huddle following the announcement, but said it was “fully equipped” to handle problems.

There was no sign of the problems being handled, though, and it is uncertain how any contingency plan can overnight solve the menace of potholes and water-logging.

Mumbai being Mumbai, however, refused to lie still as office-goers and students came out in reassuring numbers to wade through the muddy water.

Both the central and western railways gave the green signal to a handful of the long-distance trains cancelled since Monday. The Howrah-bound trains today were to start on schedule but have been diverted through Pune as a landslide has blocked the Nashik route. The Howrah Mail via Allahabad, however, was cancelled.

Mumbai Central, from where several long-distance trains leave daily, looks like a relief camp with no relief for the number of stranded passengers waiting on its platforms. “I have been here since Monday evening,” said Hitesh Parekh who was to go to Gujarat.

The rains affected the entertainment world, too. Anil Nagrath of the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers said there has been a loss of Rs 10 crore in the past week.

But there was not too much worry on the sets of the Amisha Patel-John Abraham starrer Eilaan at Filmalaya studio. Shooting continued though Amisha complained that it was extremely difficult to walk to the sets from the make-up van in the rain with all the make-up intact.

For Aishwarya and Vivek, however, the rains turned into a reason to celebrate. The much-discussed couple, who were in Amravati to promote their film Kyun! Ho Gaya Naa..., did so in open air, breaking into a song and dance. With the hundreds who had gathered to see the stars, it became a roaring rain party.

If the stars cheered, the mortals despaired.

Parts of the city remained submerged, especially the stretch between Dadar and Lalbag, Sion, Andheri East and Kurla. The slum areas have suffered the most and many have been rendered homeless.

The three main highways leading out of Mumbai — to Nashik, Pune and Goa — were operational today, but supplies to the city through these highways were disrupted.

“We got half our supply of vegetables,” said a vendor in Kandivli, a Mumbai suburb.

The authorities, however, insisted they were doing their best. “The machinery is geared up,” said municipal commissioner Johny Joseph.

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