Incessant rains hit Mumbai for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, flooding vast areas of the city, throwing traffic out of gear on key arteries and affecting trains and flights services in the Maharashtra capital.
Weather officials have predicted very heavy rains will continue all through Tuesday and heavy rains on Wednesday in the city and its suburbs. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asked people to be cautious, saying the intensity of rains is set to increase in the next one hour. The civic body also urged people to stay indoors.
Colaba weather station, which covers south Mumbai, recorded 37.6mm of rain and Santacruz weather station – representative of the suburbs – recorded 126mm rain from 8.30am to 2.30pm, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
It said the Colaba station recorded 152mm of rain between Monday and Tuesday mornings, the highest 24-hour rainfall this year.
Various areas in north Konkan also recorded heavy to very heavy rain in the last 24 hours with Alibaug recording 161mm and adjoining regions of Dahanu and Harnai also recording three digit figures. Navi Mumbai too received 119.85mm rain in the past 24 hours.
“A low-pressure area that had developed over Odisha has moved westwards towards the central parts of the country. There is an upper air cyclonic circulation over the eastern part of the state and a trough that extends over the west coast. All these factors have led to very heavy rain over the Konkan coast, especially Mumbai,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, India Meteorological Department (IMD).
A combination of high tide and heavy rains can push water into the low lying areas of the city, which often clogs the storm water drains leading to more inundation. A high tide up to 3.29metres is expected to hit at 4.30pm.
Traffic snarls, diversions
There were reports of waterlogging at locations such as Hindmata, Lalbaug, GTB Nagar, Sion, Mulund, and low lying areas in Parel, Worli, and Dadar that threw traffic out of gear. Areas near Byculla railway station in the east near Palace Cinema and towards the Byculla zoo were also under water.
Mumbai Police issued diversions for select places as traffic policemen tried to ease congestion at various points in the city following water logging. But the traffic department of Mumbai Police is yet to issue any advisory or diversions.
“South bound #traffic towards Matunga diverted to Wadala due to water logging on EEH (Amar Mahal) SG Barve Rd & VN Purav Rd,” Mumbai Police tweeted from its official handle.
The 5.6-kilometre Bandra-Worli sea link was shut for traffic moving towards south Mumbai for the first time on Tuesday since it opened in 2009.
Mumbai traffic police, which put diversions on local arterial roads in the city, suggested people avoid Worli and Haji Ali stretch in south Mumbai because of waterlogging in certain areas, and the possibility of big waves crashing on to the shore because of a high tide.
“Water is being pumped out from Haji Ali stretch and Worli sea face which should be clear soon,” said Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
Mumbai Police have also urged commuters and motorists to dial 100 to apprise them of the situation if they are stuck somewhere. People can contact Mumbai Police on Twitter by tagging @MumbaiPolice.
Schools shut, KEM under water
Television visuals showed people wading through chest-high water and vehicles crawling through flooded roads in the city, which struggles through the monsoon every year as ageing drainage system gives way.
The incessant rains have also affected the city’s most popular festival, Ganeshotsav, that began on August 25.
The heavy rains prompted many schools to send children home early, although others were on holiday for the festival.
The School Bus Owners Association, which works with 200 schools in Mumbai, said schools in western suburbs stayed shut and many cancelled their afternoon shifts due to waterlogging especially near Juhu, Kandivali, and Borivli.
Education department officials said they have asked schools to allow parents to pick up children early and requested them not to send children home unsupervised.
“In many cases, parents are working and so there might not be anyone to pick up the children. Such children should be kept in school only,” BB Chavan, deputy director of education (Mumbai region) said.
KEM Hospital, Mumbai’s largest municipal medical facility, went under knee deep water after the rains on Tuesday.
“We have already moved about 30 patients from ground floor to upper floors. We are taking all measurements to ensure patients aren’t inconvenienced,” Dr Avinash Supe, KEM Hospital’ dean, said.
Doctors at the hospital said water started seeping inside the hospital amid continuous rains overnight and early morning. “In no time, wards on the ground floor such as the pediatric went under the water. We have heard the situation is almost similar in other hospitals located in low lying areas,” said a doctor.
Trains affected, flights diverted
Officials said the heavy rains have severely affected the city’s lifeline, the suburban railway service that is used by more than 70 lakh commuters daily.
By afternoon, the Central Railway services were running over an hour late due to water logging on the tracks. Western Railway shut its services at Bandra due to waterlogging. The Harbour line services were delayed by over half an hour.
All Western Railway trains from Bandra towards the city were stopped.
“The CR services are delayed by nearly an hour-and-half. At Sion, there is water logging on the tracks. It took me two-and-half-hours to travel from Mulund to Parel,” Vishwas Patil, a commuter, said.
The movement of local trains was also affected after the Mumbai-bound Duronto Express derailed in Thane district, about 70 km from Mumbai, early Tuesday impacting thousands of people who take the route of work and business daily.
Strong winds and heavy rain hit operations at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), which reported average delays of around 35 minutes. Airport officials said a few flights have been diverted to other locations and others asked to ‘go-around’ or delay landing.
“There are seven go arounds, three diversions and 35 minutes delay in flight operations till now,” said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson.
“Pilots are aware of the city’s weather and hence have flown with sufficient fuel due to which they are asked to go-around without any such concern. In case of a diversion, flights are preferred to land in the closest airports either in Ahmedabad or Vadodara,” an airport official said.
Tuesday’s rains could be the heaviest and longest since July 26, 2005, when the city was devastated by floods.