The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City on move stays home

Mumbai, Aug. 1: Tomorrow, Mumbai will complete a week of deluge. And there is threat of more to come.

In the sea of helplessness this city’s streets have turned into and the powerless, drinking waterless anger that is swelling in homes of the less fortunate, one question is floating. Is this the worst Mumbai has seen: bigger even possibly than the riots or the blasts'

“Any day this is a much bigger disaster,” said Ashok Pandit, a director who has been visiting some of the worst affected areas with colleagues from the film industry. “(Though) There should be no comparison between the two (rain and blasts),” he added.

Over 900 people have died, nearly half of them in Mumbai. In the 1992 blasts, more than 250 people were killed.

The city woke up today to fresh spells of heavy rain that resumed yesterday, drowning efforts to swim back to the shore of normal life after last Tuesday-Wednesday’s deluge. Most people chose to stay indoors, heeding the Met office alert of heavy rain and gusty winds for the next 48 hours.

After the blasts, Mumbai was back on its feet in a couple of days. But the rain has broken the spirit of the indomitable Mumbaikar who chose not to go to work.

Companies reported thin attendance. Anil Ambani was at Reliance Centre, the Ballard Estate office, at nine but didn’t have very much company.

Reliance Energy, one of the two power suppliers to Mumbai he runs, has reportedly been hauled up by the government for supply failure.

• Let staff leave in batches. Avoid congestion
• Use car pools
• Use loud-speakers in police vehicles to bust rumours
• 80 domestic flights off
• Red alert in 4 districts
• Heavy rain forecast for next 24 hours
• Schools, colleges shut on Tuesday

A kilometre away, Bombay House, the Tata group headquarters, was desolate.

BPO companies were desperate. Intelenet Global Services that shot to fame during the July 7 blasts in London by working overtime couldn’t get employees to office.

Susir Kumar, the CEO, said: “We are talking to the television guys to tone down their warnings that discourage people from travelling.”

“Come on, these are normal rains,” said the exasperated executive.

The Met office agreed. “What we’re seeing today is not in any way unusual,” said Subhash Bhan at the Indian Meteorological Department, Delhi.

Mumbai was looking at another day of marooned existence, the authorities declaring all schools and colleges closed tomorrow. The IMD in Pune expected respite to arrive in two days.

Over 80 domestic flights in and out of the city were cancelled today. Jet Airways cancelled flights ' 58 in number 'for the next two days. These include flights to and from Calcutta. Other airlines were rescheduling services.

Some low-lying areas were under eight feet of water. As on last Tuesday, rainwater submerged ground floor flats in the staff quarters of Air-India and Indian Airlines at Kalina. Unlike that time, however, the administration was better prepared to cope, sending motorised rubber boats and inflatable rafts to rescue trapped people and ferry food and water.

Many had moved out in any case. “It was not possible to live there without power and drinking water. So, we have moved in with a relative in Colaba,” said Air India engineer R. Ramakrishna.

Police commissioner Anami Roy visited the area on a rubber boat, but in the wake of the disaster a question was staring the administration in the face: who does Mumbai turn to in such a calamity'

A group of film industry people, led by director Mahesh Bhatt, will file a public interest litigation tomorrow asking this question.

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