Some parts of Mumbai have received the second-highest rainfall in July in 45 years, bringing the city to a halt due to the resultant flooding.
The city is home to 18.4 million people, of whom sixteen have died as a result of rain-related incidents (at the time of writing). To avoid further incident, the Maharashtra state government has declared public holidays and urged people to remain indoors and avoid travelling through flooded areas unless absolutely necessary. Trains, flights and other forms of public transport have been heavily disrupted. Workplaces and schools have also been closed as further rain is predicted.
The floods echo — though have not yet reaped the same level of death toll — the flooding of the city in 2005. In the floods of 2005, the city remained flooded for many days, causing the deaths of over 1000 people.
During the previous decade’s flooding, the capability of the city’s municipal body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to handle the drainage infrastructure of the city was called into question. This again has been made a central issue of the floods, as BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi made public statements claiming climate change as the reason behind the floods which have earned ridicule on social media.
Many Indians took to Twitter to criticise the statement. While some acknowledge climate change may be playing a role, it has been mentioned that flooding is a very real risk in the city due to yearly incidents of high rainfall. As such, infrastructure must be made adequate enough to handle and drain away excess rainfall, otherwise flooding can — as in this instance — shut down the entire city.
India’s western coast has in the last year seen severe instances of flooding. Kerala last year bore witness to the worst floods the state had endured in nearly a century, with hundreds losing their lives and millions of individuals displaced. Climate change may indeed be playing a role in these incidents, as extreme weather patterns are occurring at a far more frequent rate ranging from the above-mentioned flooding to heatwaves and dust storms.
As occurred in Kerala last year, Mumbai may soon be dealing with outbreaks of infectious diseases such as leptospirosis as water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases find ample grounds to spread through the population.
Efforts must be made to rapidly clear the water-logged city. Allowing for sources of water to stagnate gives opportunity for mosquito populations to arise. Officials have, however, stated removal efforts are underway: one states that “despite having 550 mm rainfall in two days, which is [the] entire June month’s average, this should have rained in about 20 days, it has rained in two days, despite that our pumps are working in full capacity…. so all the water from Hindmata has been pumped out and that is water-logging free.”