Mumbai struggles to normalize; Thackeray praises BMC
Mumbai: As Mumbai struggled to return to normalcy after Tuesday's deluge which claimed at least five lives, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday praised his party-ruled BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC) for "good work".
Akin to the great floods of July 2005 when the city was buried under 945 mm of rainfall on a single day, Mumbaikars were mostly left to fend for themselves on Tuesday when it rained about 316 mm, paralyzing the megapolis.
However, Thackeray said all BMC officials and departments did a good job given the extreme rainfall which was not anticipated.
He denied that drainage cleaning work was not completed and blamed the ongoing works on Metro Railway and other mega-projects by multiple agencies with different jurisdictions as partly responsible for the flooding in the city.
Thackeray said that besides some 30,000 civic staffers on duty on Tuesday, Shiv Sainiks, party corporators and legislators were helped people stranded in the city.
Immediately thereafter, Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar demanded "an apology" for disrupting the lives of Mumbaikars.
"Where were the people ruling the BMC hiding? In manholes? The BJP leaders and workers helped the people as a duty," Shelar said.
The Congress and NCP targeted both the Shiv Sena and the BJP for "utter failure" to cope up with the situation.
"Thackeray had said this year Mumbai would not sink during rains. Where have the billions of rupees spent on civic works gone?" asked Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhanjan Munde of NCP.
Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam demanded that the Shiv Sena should quit the BMC and asked for the resignation of Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta for Tuesday's deluge when large parts of the city remained under three to five feet of water.
Mumbaikars alleged that the BMC, India's richest civic body with an annual budget of over Rs 25,000 crore and cash reserves of over Rs 61,000 crore, totally let down the citizens.
Proclaimed the financial powerhouse of the country, Mumbai simply collapses whenever there is 100mm of rains. Losses amount to worth billions of rupees.
Unfazed by the criticism, the Shiv Sena expressed confidence that "Lord Ganesha will protect Mumbai from all such disasters".
Meanwhile, owing to a series of cancellations, massive delays, diversions of several long-distance trains to and from Mumbai on Western Railway and Central Railway, thousands of passengers continued to be stranded at railway stations and terminals like Borivali, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Bandra, Mumbai Central, Dadar Terminus and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
Mumbaikars also faced the prospects of a fresh spiraling of prices of fruits, vegetables and essentials owing to short supply from wholesale centres outside Mumbai.
BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said nearly 30,000 BMC staffers were out on Mumbai roads since Tuesday and had cleared 5,000 tonnes of garbage among other things.
On day 2, the suburban train services returned to near normal by late evening, but the regular crowds were missing owing to a holiday declared for schools and colleges. Government servants were given the option to attend office only if feasible.
The IMD has forecast "heavy to very heavy rains in the entire coastal Konkan belt including Mumbai" with wet weather conditions likely to persist till Saturday, though Wednesday largely remained dry.