Sunday, July 09, 2006


They say that a Brahmin has to follow his daily rituals. They are a set of tasks, to be performed on a daily basis without fail. I doubt if the “Tam Brams “in Mumbai, ever follow these. Mumbai is not a place where known for its consistency. It’s a place known for brilliance. A playing field, where individual brilliance is rewarded more than consistency. But over the last 25 years, there has been something that has occurred on a consistent basis. No prizes for guessing this one. It’s flooding during the monsoons.

Gandhi Market and King’s circle are 2 landmarks which I had to cross in order to reach my school in Matunga.I can still distinctly remember these areas getting flooded every monsoon. Apart from the standard holidays that we used to have in schools, we always got a couple of days more due to flooding. Today 10 years after I have completed my schooling things remain the same at that place. Infact a common joke is that “you don’t need rains, even four dogs are enough, and Gandhi market would be flooded”. The deluge last year (26th July), which got the city to a complete standstill and the events of the last few days, which has completely crippled the normal life in Mumbai are perhaps are sign of things to come. I finally decided to find out the actual reason why the “Shangai of India “caves in to the rain gods every year.

The current drainage system in Mumbai, which was put in place at the beginning of the 20th century, is only capable of handling rain intensity of 25 mm per hour.Now the average rainfall on a day where there is heavy showers is in the range of 150 -170mm in the space of 2 to 3 hours.And if it happens to be the early hours of the morning, you can well imagine what happens to roads and rails and basically the entire nerve system that connects the suburbs to the city.Moreover the current drainage system is also clogged at several places.
In 1990 the city had faced severe water logging after which UK based consultants were appointed.They proposed a Storm Water Drainage System . The project aims at enhancing the drainage system through larger diameter storm water drains and pipes, using pumps wherever necessary and removing encroachments. The estimated cost of implementing the project was Rs. 616 crore but the BMC committee had rejected it on the grounds that it was "too costly".Today the cost of the same project is 1200 crores.And once sanctioned it would be 2012 before it is complete.

With the help of of the media ,both the television channels which beam out images of people sufferning in the rains and newspapers which give a detailed account of the failures of the BMC and the MMRDA and the State Government, there has been an increased level of awareness among the people. Now, there can be 2 reactions to it. The typical Indian attitude to say that the Govt wont do anything and pass on the buck to the others or to take the initiative and proactively participate in improving the state of affairs. I feel the latter is possible.It just needs an effort,people need to come together and then its possible.

We are now armed with a very effective tool, an Act passed by the Govt of India,called the Right to Information Act.There is a huge awareness drive going on, in order to pass on the message to the common man. I think it’s a tool,if used effectively can bring about a very positive change in our society. (More info available on

Taking up small initiatives and cleanliness drives in our locality would also be of great help.Its true that we spend most of our day and our lives in our workplaces and are stressed out by the time we come home. So,why not make it as part of a corporate social responsibility programme,wherein you could spend a Sunday each month and clean up a particular area.Im sure it would be work and a lot of fun.

This is just one of the ideas that stuck me.Ways by which we could contribute. Just take a deep breath, close your eyes and visualise a cleaner,greener and a flood-free Mumbai. Now if that doesn’t motivate a Mumbaikar to make a beginnning, to come up with innovative ways by which we could help…….I don’t think anything would…..