Mumbai Rains: Met Dept Issued Red Alert but BMC, Govt Did Not Act
Why was there such a delay in issuing an advisory?
A day of heavier than expected rainfall in Mumbai brought the city to a standstill, claiming at least 10 lives, and leaving hundreds of people stranded in the rain, unable to reach home. While the Shiv Sena congratulated the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – which is incidentally run by the party – for ensuring that the situation did not "go out of hand", a pertinent question arises. Could this situation have been avoided?
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued a red alert about heavy rains two days ago, ie on Monday.
Despite this warning, neither the BMC nor the Maharashtra government took adequate measures to avoid the severe crisis that the maximum city came face to face with on Tuesday. In light of 10 deaths, and several people still missing, the authorities need to explain a few things.
- Heavy rains began on Tuesday morning – why did it take so long to issue an advisory?
BMC's first advisory was issued in the afternoon. A tweet asking people to stay indoors has a time stamp of 1:40 pm. The paper advisory was also issued at the same time.
- The BJP has put social media to commendable use for campaigns earlier. So why were these social media skills not applied to warn people of the rains earlier?
The authority's languid reaction resulted in lakhs of Mumbaikars leaving their homes on Tuesday morning as if it was a regular day, but several didn’t make their way back home by the evening.
By the time Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis appealed to people to return to their homes, it was too late for many. People were stranded in traffic on waterlogged roads, several had to spend the night at their office.
BMC's Account and the City's Plight Tell Different Tales
The Quint spoke to a senior official in the BMC, who claimed that all the hospitals in the city had been alerted as soon as the IMD issued a warning. While the hospitals might have been prepared, the BMC failed to inform the citizens of Mumbai, who bore the brunt of the rains and subsequent flooding.
If people had been informed in time, several would have chosen not to venture out of their homes.
Besides, the BMC also has 60 automatic rain gauges that have been installed at 58 locations, according to a Hindustan Times report. Out of these, 54 rain gauges automatically send updates to BMC's Disaster Control Room every 15 minutes. In addition, the Disaster Control Room has an alarm system attached that sends out a notification when more than normal rainfall is recorded.
Despite this technology, how did the BMC fail to assess the gravity of the situation?
Delay Despite Information is Sheer Irresponsibility
IMD's Deputy Director General, KG Hosalikar, told The Quint over the phone that as per routine duty, the IMD had informed relevant agencies in Mumbai of the approaching rains on 28 August.
The IMD issues a red alert only when there are chances of severe damage to life and property. The alert is also issued to give the authorities adequate time to prepare themselves.
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