Saturday, August 13, 2005

Water Water Everywhere But Not a Drop To Drink!

We are all very well aware as to what happended on Terrible Tuesday. Mother nature got fed up with all the abuse treated out to her since the last 50 years in Mumbai and finally retaliated. And with immense fury!3000 lives!Not a death toll you would associate due to a typhoon in one of the top cities of the world.

Let us dissect this a bit shall we? Why did so many people lose their lives?Part of the reason was panic. Most of them were caught in this kind of situation for the first time in their lives. And trust me, no matter what anyone says, it is very difficult to think rationally in these kind of situations. We have not been given the adequete disaster training for a flood. Elementary things that doors of a car will NOT open if the car is submerged in water.Why is this so? Because no one ever imagined a FLOOD could ever occur in Mumbai.A tsunami maybe. But a flood?.Well Terrible Tuesday has answered this question for us.

This flood did not occur directly due to heavy rain. There is no rain cloud in the world that could make water rise upto 15 ft in 3 minutes. This was a ghastly mix of bad maintenance, shortsightedness, greed and sheer bad luck! Why do i say greed? The answer lies in 3 important words: Bandra-Kurla Complex! After this fiasco happened people came out with the information that the planning commitee had been advised against building the Bandra-Kurla Complex since it was blocking the overflow path of the Meethi river and was going to be built totally on marshy and reclaimed land. But greed and shortsightedness overcame common sense and the complex was built. And we are all seeing the repurcussions now.

People blame the BMC for poor maintenance. Fine. They are guilty for that. But the fact remains that these drains are abused and used by one and all as their own personal garbage dump. When the storm water drains in the Andheri and Sakinaka area were opened to be cleaned, they were found chocked with animal bones, plastic bags, paper pulp and god knows what other goop;mainly thrown there by the various restaurants in the vicinity.

Let us look at the commercial aspect of this all. HUGE LOSSES! Sums it up doesnt it?Roads, cars, offices, godowns, raw material, finished goods: You name it and it will be in the washed away or destroyed list. Peoples homes, cars, valuable, cherished belongings, memories, their whole lives washed away in one sweep! Even the insurance companies stand to lose in this bargain. Everyone but one species of Human beings lost on this day. Who gained?But of course, the sleaze of red tapism...the bureaucrats and so called public servants!Centre sanctions Rs. 500 crore as relief!. Moments later a meeting is called at a bureaucrat's house to discuss how best to siphon off this money.And reflief?Yeah distribute a food packet here and there. Make a few public assurances and appearances. Mission accomplished!

So who is to blame for this?The BMC?Yes. The rain gods?YES. The city planner?YES. The people of Mumbai?YES. Why do i say this?Cause even the people abuse the city to our own benifit. Throw trash on the road, in drains, spit as and where we please, walk our pets on public roads, show total disregard for authority:It all adds up and one day you get everything back with interest. My heart goes out to all those affected by this flood. It must have been a harrowing time for one and all. But we should consider this as a warning and seriously introspect as to how we can contribute to making all our cities greener, safer and all in all better places to live in.