The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mumbai salute and siren call

Mumbai, July 28: Spirited, yes; a Shanghai, not yet.

As rain-ravaged Mumbai began to throb back to life today, it received a qualified salute from the Prime Minister.

“I would like to place on record my admiration for the citizens of this great city of Mumbai,” Manmohan Singh told a media conference here. “You have suffered a lot in the last three days but have shown resilience, fortitude, courage and patience in dealing with this calamity.”

But the flash floods that killed nearly 270 people in Mumbai ' and another 180-odd elsewhere in Maharashtra ' and marooned millions have shown up the city’s poor infrastructure, Singh acknowledged.

“Mumbai deserves more attention,” he said after announcing an aid of Rs 700 crore. “Its infrastructure must be modernised and made adequate and fit enough for the commercial business capital of the country.”

If the past two days’ submerged, paralysed streets and all-pervading blackout have brought on the rider, citizens like Dr Bhupendra Awasthi more than deserve the salute.

The doctor led a team of 10 paediatricians at Surya Nursing Home in Santa Cruz and battled nearly 36 hours of power failure to save over 30 newborns on ventilators.

“Nothing happened to even a single baby. But I haven’t experienced anything as nightmarish,” said the 48-year-old paediatrician, who worked round-the-clock for two days with his staff to ensure that babies in their care were well looked after.

“I went home for the first time today since Tuesday afternoon,” Dr Awasthi told The Telegraph.

There was a breather for his fellow Mumbaikars, too, as the rain stopped this morning, roads began to clear and rail and air travel resumed tentatively. Even power was restored over most of the city.

But the past two days’ chaos was a tough reminder of how far India’s financial capital still was from becoming the next Shanghai.

Asked if unplanned growth was to blame, the Prime Minister said: “We should take a holistic view of the developmental needs of the city.”

Many people killed in landslides were building a road intended to improve traffic flow in the city.

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