Mumbai Rains: Where Has Technology And All The Satellites Gone?

India boasts of one of the best satellite systems that can predict weather. What were satellites doing when Mumbai sank in rains today? What technology are we speaking about?

Mumbai rain

Every time a rocket goes up from ISRO’s backyard, we are told that India will have one of the finest family of remote sensing satellites that can predict or pick up just about anything. Why on earth did these satellites not pick up the massive cloud formation that just opened up over Mumbai sinking the financial capital to its last penny?

What was the MeT office doing? Could it not have forewarned of a massive rain and asked the government to keep all people indoors for a day or two? After it rained cats and dogs, the MeT office woke up to say the downpour would continue for the next 48 hours.

Mumbai rain

Charan Singh, Director, India Meteorological Department, said a ‘Red’ warning has been issued for the next 24 hours for the city and adjoining areas, indicating there could be very heavy rainfall. He said the city and surrounding areas would continue to receive heavy rainfall over the next 2-3 days.  

Very very helpful, sir! And thank you!!

If this is rocket science, we don’t need it. What nonsense. This is precisely the chalta hai attitude that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of recently.

It is an irony that Indian satellites can pick up and predict weather patterns on Mars, but not over Mumbai.

When typhoon Hato recently slammed another financial hub – Hong Kong – the government used technology to the hilt to save the citizens of misery. Nobody was allowed to venture out as one of the worst storms made a landfall over Hong Kong.

It is time for ISRO and the ministry of science and technology to do some explanation. People suffer, cities come to a standstill, farmers are put to a huge loss, the economy gets badly affected, there is loss of life and property – all because we cannot predict a predictable calamity like a downpour using a technology for which we have paid through taxes.

Or, wind up the Met department and use the money saved to outsource the job of predicting rain or drought. At least there would be some accountability. At present, nobody is accountable – neither the MeT office nor the ministry of science and technology.  

Mumbai rain

Every monsoon Mumbai sinks up to its nose. Towns and villages in states like Bihar and Assam just vanish. And every year citizens are caught unawares. Hapless office goers are seen walking along flooded rail lines, cars are seen almost floating and people are seen wading through hip deep water. Every year, the pictures are the same; only the people and dates are different.

And then there would be a flood of blame game with every political party jumping into the murky waters trying to fish for votes.

You bet, the scene would be no different next monsoon too.

Citizens of Mumbai have been howling at the BMC – the civic body of Mumbai – for years leading the BMC to develop to some thick skin and loss of hearing.

Mumbai rain

Today, torrential rain accompanied by strong winds pounded disrupting rail, road and air services, uprooting trees, swamping homes, and bringing the megapolis and satellite towns to their knees.

This was precisely what happened last year too. And the year before and the year before that….

High tide prevented natural drainage of water into the sea and Mumbai just sank in murky drainage water.

Mumbai recorded copious rain of 65 mm in just three hours resulting in this misery which could have been minimised.

Thousands of vehicles were stranded on arterial roads in Lower Parel, Dadar, Kurla, Andheri, Khar West, Ghatkopar, Sion and Hindmata areas that went under knee to waist deep water for several hours.  

Mumbai rain

Train services on all three suburban railway lines– Central, Western and Harbour lines – the lifeline of Mumbai were paralysed.

Many had to walk along the flooded tracks to their destinations.

Prime Narendra Modi spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and promised all possible support from the Centre.

Naval helicopters have been kept on standby to meet any eventuality and flood rescue teams and divers are also ready for deployment, a Navy spokesperson said.

Five flood rescue teams and two diving teams are also ready to render assistance at different locations across Mumbai, the spokesperson said.

Schools and colleges have been ordered shut following forecast of heavy rainfall.

Flights were also affected as aircrafts stopped landing at the city airport after 4 pm but were taking off, officials said.

Flight operations at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport saw delay and disruptions since morning.

The same story can be published next monsoon too and the facts would not have changed. As it is said in Bollywood, yeah hai Mumbai meri jaan!!

Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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