The headquarters of India’s top companies remained deserted and numerous business meetings were cancelled, as Mumbai grappled with the impact of incessant rains since Thursday night.
In a replay of an annual monsoon nightmare in the country’s financial capital, heavy rains flooded large parts of Mumbai, crippling the railway network that carries eight million passengers a day. Many flights were delayed by more than half an hour to one hour and some others were diverted to nearby airports. Thousands were caught in a traffic snarls and people were asked by authorities to stay at home.
The forecast is quite gloomy with the weather department predicting very heavy rains for the next 48 hours, which raises the possibility of the city continuing to remain under water over the weekend.
The average rainfall recorded in the past 24 hours was the highest in a decade for the month of June. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Mumbai’s suburbs received 283.4 mm of rain while South Mumbai recorded 208.8 mm rain between 8.30 am on Thursday and 8.30 am on Friday. The all-time high 24-hour rainfall data for June was recorded on June 10, 1991, at 399 mm rain. But it was lower than the floods of July 26, 2005, when the city was flooded due to 994 mm of rain in 24 hours.
The BSE Sensex closed 200 points up and the increased use of technology and continued trading from other centres helped buoy market volumes on Friday. Volumes on Friday touched Rs 3 lakh crore, which was higher than the Rs 2.83 lakh crore average turnover over the previous 30 days. The higher volumes came even as brokerages reported up to one-third of employees not turning up for work on account of the heavy rains. An increasing proportion of trading can take place now without manual intervention, through smart-phones and computers, pointed out brokerage officials.
The heavy rain caused water-logging in almost all low-lying areas of Mumbai, especially in the business districts of Andheri, Bandra Kurla Complex and Lower Parel. The business districts of Nariman Point and Ballard Estate in South Mumbai were cut off, as trains had been stopped since early morning on Friday.
Most of the Mumbaikars took to social media like Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage over lack of any warnings from the weather department about the heavy rains and about the city’s unpreparedness to tackle such crisis. #MumbaiRains was one of the top trending topic on social media with most people expressing their anger against the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika (BMC).
As a preventive step, BMC shut down schools across the city and Mumbai University deferred some examinations. The politicians, however, took the opportunity to blame each other. The opposition Congress blamed the Shiv Sena-run BMC for the “mess”, with city unit president Sanjay Nirupam saying the BMC has repeatedly failed to tackle the water-logging issue Mumbai faces every year. But Shiv Sena MP from South Mumbai, Arvind Sawant, refuted the claims, saying the BMC has been working hard to help Mumbai residents, adding that “such issues should not be politicised”.
But there are very few takers for Sawant's clarification. Several Mumbaikars, who were stranded on roads and at the railway stations, criticised the BMC for its tall claims of flood-free Mumbai due to the cleaning of drains and other pre-monsoon works.