Heavy rains in India kill 30, cripple financial capital

image

Summary

 

Monsoon rains have been destroying walls in Mumbai, resulting in the death of 30 people, a total halt in rail and air traffic, and the shutdown of schools and offices. A city with a population of 18 million has consistently been hindered by monsoon season from June to September with poor infrastructure.

 

These fatal incidents occur, because the heavy rain weakens the poorly built infrastructure, causing walls to crash and fall on people. With a city trying to compete economically with the likes of a Shanghai, Mumbai’s poorly constructed infrastructure, including garbage-clogged drains and waterways during monsoon season, prevent it from thriving financially. Thousands of people had to be rescued by naval personnel after river overflowing. With heavy rain expected to continue throughout the season, government buildings and educational institutions have been closed until further notice.

 

There are continuous complaints that city officials are never prepared for flooding despite there being a record of consistent rain during this specific season. With the main railway preventing millions from going to work and the main runway of Mumbai’s airport being closed, there has been a significant halt in business activity in one of the most populous places in South Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

Heavy rains in India kill 30, cripple financial capital

 

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Wall collapses in Mumbai and nearby towns, caused by the worst monsoon rains in a single day in 14 years, killed 30 people on Tuesday and disrupted rail and air traffic, prompting officials to shut schools and offices.

 

Financial markets were open in the city of 18 million touted as a potential rival to the Chinese city of Shanghai, but hampered by poor infrastructure like many other Indian cities.

During every monsoon season, which runs from June to September, India experiences fatal incidents of building and wall collapses as rainfall weakens the foundations of poorly-built structures.

Heavy rain brought a wall crashing down on shanties built on a hill slope in Malad, a western suburb of Mumbai, a fire brigade official said, killing 21 people.

Three people died when a school wall collapsed in the city of Kalyan, 42 km (26 miles) north of Mumbai.

In the nearby western city of Pune, six people were killed in a wall collapse on Tuesday, a fire brigade official said, after a similar incident on Saturday killed 15.

Mumbai is looking to turn itself into a global financial hub but large parts of the city struggle to cope with annual monsoon rains, as widespread construction and garbage-clogged drains and waterways make it increasingly vulnerable to chaos.

As much as 375 mm (14.8 inches) of rain fell over 24 hours in some areas of Mumbai, the highest in 14 years, flooding streets and railway tracks, forcing the suspension of some suburban train services which millions of commuters ride to work each day.

About 1,000 people stranded in low-lying areas of the city were rescued by naval personnel using rubber boats after a swollen river began to overflow, municipal authorities said.

As weather officials forecast intermittent heavy showers and isolated extremely heavy rainfall, authorities called a holiday for government offices and educational institutions.

“Rain is expected to remain intense even today,” city authorities said on Twitter. “We request you to stay indoors unless there’s an emergency.”

UNPREPARED

Indian television showed images of flooded homes and people walking through waist deep water, stoking criticism of city authorities.

“Every year, the first spell of rainfall throws normal life out of gear in Mumbai. An inquiry is needed into why this happens despite claims of preparations,” said Ajit Pawar, a state opposition leader.

Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra state which includes Mumbai, said the city’s infrastructure cannot handle excessive rainfall in a short period of time, but new pumping stations would be operational soon.

Many firms asked employees to work from home.

The main runway at Mumbai airport, India’s second biggest, was closed from midnight after a SpiceJet flight overshot the runway while landing, an airport spokeswoman said.

The secondary runway is operational, but 55 flights were diverted and another 52 were canceled due to bad weather, she said.

“Our team is trying their best to bring the main runway back in operation and this may take up to 48 hours,” airport authorities said later on Twitter.

 

 

 

Source:  Reuters, Rajendra Jadhav, July. 1, 2019. Photo credit to Francis Mascarenhas.