The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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It’s raining, but not cats & dogs
- Mumbai better armed for fight

Mumbai, July 4: Singer Sunita Rao thinks the flooded streets and the chaos are part of the city’s life. So it’s best to get on with it.

But for all her optimism, as she waded through the posh streets of suburban Bandra, memories of last July had come flooding back.

The city had then gone under for almost a week and hundreds died. Today, after four days of torrential rain flooded streets and subways, submerged rail tracks and held up flights, most of Mumbai stayed indoors.

Over 500 families were evacuated from areas close to the Mithi river and six deaths were reported, including four who were electrocuted.

The Met department offered no respite. “The heavy showers are due to a depression on the east coast. The depression is weakening and heading towards Mumbai. This would bring more rain to the city,” said Sati Devi, director, Mumbai circle. “In fact, we expect around 250 mm of rainfall on Wednesday.”

The city’s rain meters today recorded between 150 and 250 mm.

The downpour, coupled with high tide, shut down the metropolis as its transport lifelines ' three suburban railways, two highways, three arterial roads and five subways ' went under water.

Long queues of hundreds waded through flooded railway lines and roads. However, railway services were restored by 6 pm, providing some relief.

According to Central and Western railway officials, at least a dozen long-distance trains, including the Mumbai-Bhubaneswar Konark Express, were cancelled or rescheduled. The Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was rescheduled by four hours.

Mumbai airport remained partially inactive for a few hours as the authorities closed down a portion of the runway. Incoming flights were diverted to Nagpur or Pune and outgoing flights were delayed.

International flights from Sahar airport, however, remained largely unaffected.

Schools and colleges turned back students while offices reported thin attendance.

Familiar signs of an administrative collapse were partly visible. Reliance Energy shut down its transformers in the western suburbs from Bandra to Goregaon as a precaution. Mobile phone networks then clogged in these areas. At some places, MTNL landlines did not function.

But unlike last July, the state machinery was alert. Municipal commissioner Johny Joseph and police chief Anami Roy toured some of the flooded areas.

The government, for the first time, made it mandatory for senior IAS officials to work in shifts to man the disaster control room.

Despite the deluge, the city’s spirit refused to get drenched. “This happens every year, so what’s there to cry about,” said Malati, a slum-dweller in Dharavi.

“People here like to live life on the edge,” said singer Rao. “They know how to smile.”

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