For most Mumbaikars, monsoons are a new round of struggle with the already struggle filled city life. Every year it is the same old story. The roads look similar to olympic size swimming pools, trains running on flooded railway tracks look like the joy rides at Essel World or Imagica. The City looks like the lost mythological island of Atlantis. Everyone walking on the road is actually running a Steeple Chase race, dodging potholes and water puddles as they go. The conditions are so bad that there is some or the other incident/accident occurring during the monsoon every year. And Mumbai monsoon seems to be that ambitious kid who breaks new records every year. While researching for this article I found that there is a separate Wikipedia page for every year’s monsoon! Yes, it is that happening event of Bombay.
For everyone outside Mumbai, the Mumbai Monsoon is that episode of the season which is not only the most awaited segment of the show but also garners the highest TRP ever. Because why not, “dusron ki pareshaaniyon ke tamashe mein hi toh jeevan ka asli sukh hai”. And we Mumbaikars also have the solution to this alarming issue: ‘Blame it on them’. But who are them you may ask? They would be your Kachre-wala, Ghanta-Gaadi wala, the Municipal Corporation or even our friendly neighborhood Super Hero, Modiji.
Well, you’re wrong. To my surprise, the problem has a lot of sources. According to one of the studies of the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publication, the reasons for flooding are quite extensive. The journal listed majorly 8 such reasons which included, Extensive Reclamation and faulty zoning regulations, incapable stormwater drain capacity, reduction in catchment areas due to heavy encroachment. They also listed Bandra Worli Sea Link and recent elongation of the International Terminal Runway as the major underlying reasons. However, the problem doesn’t end here. Mumbai, one of the fastest-growing economies, is currently reeling under the problem of overpopulation. Well, this surely doesn’t come as a surprise as cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Karachi, Istanbul, Dhaka, Tokyo, Moscow has the same issue and in fact, have a population larger than Mumbai.
But “With great population comes great atrocities” – Spiderman Patil, a Mahim resident. According to various demographic reports, the Mumbai population growth has been increasing exponentially. In just a span of 18 years, the population has quadrupled. This is highly alarming as the increase in population has led to a direct increase in waste production and concretisation, the two main reasons for which we are directly responsible. Today, on a daily average 11,000 tonnes of waste is produced in a day. This number has seen a 105% growth which is the highest ever recorded in any city around the globe. Since this is an unstoppable growth, there are no proper dumping grounds or facilities available and this leads to choking of drains and water bodies, less percolation of water in the ground thereby causing flooding. According to the experts at the WHO, Mumbai records the highest number of deaths due to mosquitoes, which breed in this stagnant water only.
Each time it pours in Mumbai, we hear tragic stories of many victims and courageous stories of helping individuals, but what’s the point. A conversation is sparked amongst the masses, debates take place on news channels, relief programs are started to support and provide aid to the affected, but what’s the point. Any city that regularly demands such a price for survival and a toll on human life, is not unprepared for the calamity- it is unprepared for normality.
Sigh, its time we take this seriously. Because, “Mumbai is not a city, its an emotion”.