Thursday, July 09, 2009

Rains continue in fits and starts

Mumbai's rains have always been unpredictable, and I remember days from my childhood, adolescence and youth before asserting this claim. There is a near consonance in the starting date, which is usually any time between the 4th and the 10th of June. We begin to read from late May that the rains have hit the Konkan coast. Once the rains are in Goa, the rainy season is but a few days away.

This year, though, something unusual happened. A cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal (Aila) and the El Nino effect upset the calculations. The monsoon advanced normally upto Ratnagiri, and then stalled out there for nearly eight days before slowly moving northward. We got our first rains around the 20th of June, and thereafter, rains have been playing a game of hide and seek, with the catchment areas of the five or six lakes that we in Mumbai draw drinking water from - receiving poor rainfall.

The civic authorities (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) have been forced to cut the water supply by 10, then 20, and now, 30 per cent in view of the near alarming situation. I admit, though, that in the housing complex where I live, there has been near normal water supply because we also draw water from a bore well.

In between, we have torrential rains. We had one such downpour lasting more than 3 hours yesterday morning, and many schools and offices remained shut as a result. We had one more such downpour today evening, with water collecting in many low-lying areas of the city. The civic authorities have a ready excuse for this, and I believe that they may be right about this: when it rains heavily at the time of an ongoing high tide in the ocean, water is bound to drain off slowly, and also, sea water will enter into the city.

Let's see how it goes ... it's fun for those who are passive observers, but for those who get caught in the downpour, it is an agonising experience indeed, as they have to wait endlessly for taxis, wade through ankle or sometimes knee-deep water as they make their way to their destinations, they have to get wet, and perchance fall ill later on, they have to ... oh, I guess you get the point.

More later.


Unknown said...

I remember a flash flood that happened in Ormoc City in November 1991. I experienced the rains like nails on my back.

Taher Kagalwala said...

Yes, you are right! Rain, when it falls heavily, can really hit one hard on skin! Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.