It’s that time of the year again when heavy rains in the Indian city of Mumbai and nearby areas have disrupted the lives of millions of people in the country’s financial capital.
Many parts of the city remain inundated in waist-deep water as incessant rains lash the city, causing flooding.
India’s weather department has issued an orange alert for the city and its neighbouring districts, predicting heavy to very heavy rains over the next five days.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force – a specialised force that responds to life-threatening disasters in the country – have been deployed in the city as a precautionary measure.
Monsoon rains are common in Maharashtra state – where Mumbai is located – around this time of the year. They are also central to the lives of people, shaping the fortunes of millions of farmers who rely on the rains to grow their produce.
But experts say climate change has made rains exceptionally fierce and less predictable in recent years, and unchecked urban development often leads to flooded streets and homes and causes traffic snarls.
Thousands of people migrate to Mumbai every day in search of jobs which fuels rapid construction, that is very often unregulated. Many areas have ageing drainage systems and that causes flooding as well. The city’s vast mangrove swamps, which act as a natural buffer during floods, have also been built over in the past few decades.
On Tuesday, Maharashtra’s newly-appointed chief minister, Eknath Shinde, visited the disaster management control room to supervise relief and rescue efforts, as residents were seen wading through fetid waters as sewers overflowed, filling roads with muck.
In many areas, commuter trains – the lifeline of Mumbai’s transport system – were disrupted, bringing the usually bustling city to a standstill.
In Thane district, many residents from low-lying areas have shifted to storm shelters as water sloshed through their homes. And the Kundalika river, located on the outskirts of Mumbai, was flowing above the danger level, news agency PTI reported.