Monday, August 01, 2005

I was just reading an article about big an impact United Airlines impending bankruptcy would have on Denver. A biggish city on any parameter. 5,500 employees of Denver contribute millions to the Denver economy.
5,500 citizens and a city seems to be concerned about their jobs and the revenues to the city.

Cut to the chase in Mumbai...

Lets look at some facts:
The BMC (Briham Mumbai Corp, city council managing civic amenities in Mumbai) has a budget of Rs. 6,756 crores ($3.2 billion) for 2004-2005 supporting 18 million inhabitants. Bangalore Mahanagar Palika has a budget of about Rs. 1000 crores (half a billion $) supporting 58 million inhabitants (and may be a million expats).

Mumbai supports some of the richest blokes in India and a lot of the poorest (34% of the 18 million live in slums)

One fine day, it rained a little bit, TV channels show people dancing in the street, frolicking in the rain. The Met Dept tells the government that there is a huge cloud burst on the way. The government plans city-wide rain dance parties.

Then the deluge. 90mm of rain in 2 hours.

Kids who went to school, people working in offices, commuters on trains, buses and cars are stranded where they are.

Sitting far away in Hyderabad, I think... shouldnt the drains just ...drain the water into the sea in an hour or so? Nope, the richest city in India has infrastructure meant for 2 million people.
Of course, not employed in BMC, I ask, Why the fuck? Hmmm... because they kept postponing the new drainage system, apparently since 1990.

Dint the famed Mumbaikars say anything? They got used to wading in knee deep water every monsoon so they thought it was 'natural'.... till the water got neck deep.

Just imagine the plight of a 5 year old school kid who cant get back home for 2 days, where the adults have no clue what to do. I would agree that the government could do little for the 2 hours when it was pouring cats and dogs. But what were they doing for 2 days after the deluge?

Why cant somebody think enough to communicate to people? Why couldnt they use the ubiquitous FM radios in every car and home? Why couldnt they tell them to get to safer areas?

Where were the boats? Where were the choppers? It is understandable the city admin dint have access to these but why dint they ask the army to help out in full force?

It was evident that they never had a disaster management plan in place which should specify in digestible steps to each entity concerned what they should do in case of a disaster. Incessant rains and water logging are not new to Mumbai.

What ensued what nothing less than apathy. 20 people died because of rumours of dam bursts and incoming tsunami. Rumours spread like wild fires but they are not discering as to who gets them, they would reached the authorities as well. But they knew the facts, they dint bother.

The government says that its employees were busy taking care of their families. They are the insiders, they know very well that the government cant and wouldnt do jack shit to take care of his family. Of course they would tend to their families. It is the worst and self implicating excuse that a civic authority can ever provide.

I read an article by Govindaraj Ethitraj, the CNBC dude, who spoke of Mumbai's reaction to the inaction by the government. He warned against callousness. y

The Mumbai spirit lived through serial bomb blasts and communcal violence. I hope the Mumbai spirit refuses to live with lack of organization from the government. I hope that Mumbai works, lives and rebels against this stupidity.

If City of Denver can be concerned about 5,500 people, then BMC should shudder at the thought a 58 million strong exodus.

2 Comments:

At 11:49 PM, Blogger SocialPariah said...

IN 1996 or so I remember a famous photo circulating Mumbai... a car had driven into a HUGE pothole. Noone knew who'd dug it.

Same thing today. Mumbai's in this huge soup and noone's claiming kitchen space.

Lovely, just lovely. I love Mumbai.

 
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