In defence of the BMC

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Floods are a great time to take stock, whether you are stuck at estate or wading through knee deep muddy water to safety. Unmindful water levels continue to rise comfortably, the garbage starts floating, and the poor appear at their makeshift doors with plastic buckets of rainwater that have entered their shanties.

With renewed frustration, and the indelible memories of 26/7 etched on its psyche, the city realises that the BMC has actually gone wrong, yet again. Despite all the maintenance work, the digging and the filling of the last several months, the sewage and stormwater drainage system is still a big flop.

Cribbing about Mumbai is the easiest thing to do over hot tea and pakodas. However, the scene is not much drier in First World cities which face less rain than Mumbai. Every year, about 2,000 millimetres of rain lash Mumbai in a short span of three months. Last year, the island sheltering about 17 million

people, received a record-shattering 3,100 mm. Flooding, say experts, is inevitable. London gets only about 600 mm rainfall spread over nine long months, but has actually its own horror rain tales.

The city of 7.5 million was swamped under the flash floods of Y2K. “London’s combined drainage system is floundering, as certain parts of the city like its central business district, have seen increased construction.

Single-storeyed structures are giving way to multi-storeys,” says Kapil Gupta, professor at department of civil engineering at IIT Powai.

Sydney and Adelaide too have faced their own quota of floods. Adelaide, which has actually only one million people, compared to Mumbai’s 17 million, got flooded last November after a day of less than 100 mm rains.

Hong Kong’s rains manage to disrupt its clockwork traffic sometimes. In 2003, Chinese provinces like Sichuan, Shaanxi, Hubei, Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui saw an average rainfall of 100 to 150 millimetres — leading to rise in water
levels and flooding.

According to a WHO report, only 31% of the world population has actually piped sanitation facilities connected to a public sewer system. First World countries though boast of automated operations for pumping out and controlling water, advanced storage and routing structures.
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