Last year on 26/7, suburban Santa Cruz recorded an unprecedented 944 mm of rain, while downtown Colaba had a mere drizzle of 77 mm. That south Mumbai stayed smugly afloat while the suburbs sank was no great achievement.
But this year the rain battered down more equitably, so much so that between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm on Tuesday, Colaba got 179.6 mm, marginally more than Santa Cruz's 179.4 mm. This time the rain gods could not be called elitist. But once again, it was the suburbs that floundered.
Two Mumbais, not one. The dichotomy between the civic infrastructure of the island city—Colaba to Mahim—and suburbia—Bandra to Dahisar—became painfully evident on Tuesday with south Mumbai staying largely unflooded while the surburbs struggled through a harrowing day of water-logging, power cuts and stalled traffic.
It was the drains that defined the day. The lack of a planned drainage system in the suburbs, the clogging of natural outlets, and years of haphazard and frenetic construction with little thought given to infrastructure, was largely responsible for the water-logging.
In contrast, the older British-built island city has a proper underground drainage and sewer network. The better drainage ensured that BEST could continue uninterrupted power supply, unlike Reliance Energy, which had to resort to widespread safety shutdowns in the suburbs.
Swept by heavy rain for the third day in a row, a bedraggled Mumbai mostly stayed home. Trains were disrupted for large parts of the day, almost 40 flights were rescheduled or cancelled, the Bombay high court rose at noon, schools and colleges remained closed, and offices reported even thinner attendance than on Monday.
Ten rain-related deaths were reported—five persons were electrocuted, four drowned and one was killed by a tree.