July 30, 2005

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Tuesday and Wednesday were probably the first time I really felt away from home. Mumbai was flooded and badly at that. I was oblivious of the entire turn of events until I received an SMS from my friend Rupesh. The message just read "Its pouring like hell here in mumbai. evrythng flooded & eytg shutdwn. schools clsd 4 nxt 2 days. Audrey safe in hosp.Puni @ uncls plc in ddr.Cal if pos."

Calling home was futile as the networks were jammed. But after numerous attempts finally got thru and came to know that dad had decided to spend the night at the office, Mom had just taken 3 hrs to walk from work to home, siblings were safe, etc. Couldn't get thru Audrey, and was glad that Rupesh had taken care of that angle.

The aftermath was bad. Numerous people lost house and belongings. Others lost loved ones. Huge losses shops. Industries shut down. Collapse of the infrastructure. Politicians disowning the responsibility, etc. The estimated loss is increasing by the day. Last estimates (as per my knowledge) were around Rs.1800 crores ( roughly US$ 413 mn). Around 900 people have lost their lives.

We need to ask some hard questions here. Why does a city that is so crucial to India is at the mercy of the elements? Why does the civic infrastucture fail every mnsoon? Drains are either filled with filth or clogged. Why can't Mumbaikars take care of the way they manage their surroundings? People openly transfer garbage from their locus to the drains. None take the effort to shift it to where it actually belongs. And the worst excuse is that how can my compliance make a difference? Why is the Met office always wrong in its predictions? Dont we have the best in supercomputers which is used for forecasting?

Lots of questions, but everyone wants to talk only of the 'spirit' of Mumbai. Can I say more?