On Saturday, Asmita Katkar, 35, succumbed to injuries she sustained when a section of a pedestrian bridge collapsed at Andheri railway station four days ago. She was the 34th victim in a rain-related incident this year and her death is a tragic reminder of how Mumbai’s infrastructure is struggling to weather the monsoon.
Just one month into the monsoon, Mumbai has witnessed 34 deaths and 56 injuries. As per to data accessed by Hindustan Times, this is an increase of 30% compared to last year. There were 26 deaths reported in rain-related incidents after the first month in 2017.
The BMC’s data shows that nearly 1,700 rain-related incidents, ranging from house collapse to drowning and tree fall, have been reported since June 1 this year.
Officials said the highest number of victims came from drowning at the city’s beaches or in storm water drains. Twenty-eight incidents of drowning have been reported, including this week’s tragedy in which four teenagers drowned in Juhu Beach. Nineteen have been reported dead.
A staggering 950-plus tree fall incidents have been reported in the first month of the monsoon, claiming six lives and injuring 20 others.
Some victims are still in hospital and some have been paralyzed as a result of severe injuries. A 20-year-old engineering college student suffered serious spinal injuries after a huge Gulmohar tree was uprooted by the wind and fell on him at Dadar on June 10.
“There are certain areas identified on the beaches that are isolated and attractive for visitors. We have requested police protection there and we are giving hooters and loudspeakers to lifeguards in order to warn visitors of high tide,” Ajoy Mehta, civic chief, told Hindustan Times.
“ Also, we are continuing tree trimming and cutting as per requirements during the monsoons. For trees in private compounds, we are advising their owners to get the trees on their plot checked and accordingly request for cutting or trimming.”
James John, coordinator of non-government organization Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), said, “Does it take a major incident or an alarming number of deaths for the authorities to start taking steps for which they are already being paid? This is clearly the inefficiency of the authorities and their lethargic attitude which leads to such incidents. Ensuring safety on beaches and proper survey of trees prior to monsoon is what the authorities should be doing it in the first place.”
The city has received massive rainfall this monsoon. While Colaba recorded 986.5 mm of rainfall, 1109.7 mm of rainfall was recorded at Santacruz between June 1 and July 7. However, the catchment areas of lakes and dams supplying drinking water to Mumbai have not received adequate rainfall as of now. Mumbai requires 14.47 lakh million litres of water in a year. So far, it has 4.5 lakh million litres of water in all the seven lakes.
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