Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Monsoon Game

Every single year, India, an agro-predominant country, looks to the skies to assess if the rain-Gods would smile at it or frown. Almost half of the action that takes place in meteorological satellites pointed to the Indian sub-continent is towards the calculations of the arrival, stay and departure of the south-westerly monsoon. Crores of rupees wasted on an imperfect science that keeps turning up riddles more than solutions.

In the midst of this, the news that we have been having more than the average rainfall for the last over 15 years; and then, the news that this year, at least, rains have been truant and the entire country is facing a deficit of from 20-50% rainfall.

Mumbai's case is a lot more peculiar than the one faced by other parts of India; in Mumbai, 150 million Mumbaikars depend on the various lakes around their city for their water needs. These lakes, including the Vaitarna, Bhatsa, Tulsi, Tansa, Vihar and the Upper Vaitarna - need to fill up completely for the Brihanmumbai Mahanagarpalika (quite a mouthful, isn't it?) - or the BMC - to supply unrestricted water to all the parts of the metropolis.

This year, Mumbaikars had to face the axe as the BMC first imposed a 15% cut, and then increased it further to 30 % as the dry spell continued to have its dark shadow upon us. Then, the rains came liberally, and we saw almost 20-25 days of good monsoon from late August to mid-September. The water cut was reduced to 15% as a result of this. Presently, September was ending and October was nigh upon us when the clouds gathered again over Mumbai, and within a few days, it was raining heavily!

I had already stowed away my raincoat, and had to bring it out once again last Monday! This unexpected rain was actually a reflection of the very heavy rains that lashed areas of East Maharashtra, North Karnataka and West Andhra Pradesh; here, there were flash floods and millions of people lost their homes and hundreds lost their lives.

However, the rains provided succour, and helped re-fill the lakes around Mumbai. This was, in a way, good news to the Mumbaikar, as the lakes now have enough water to last till the middle of May 2010. However, the BMC has maintained the 15% cut and is likely to do so to prevent any unforeseen problems.

For me, personally, the rainy season is a time for more professional work, while for my better half, who runs a salon, it is a bit of a business dampener. For my daughters, it is something in between a blessing and a curse, since it leads them to the pleasures of getting wet and dancing, so to say, while at the same time, reducing their outside activities and even school attendance.

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