There's nothing august about Mumbai

July 26, 2005: It began raining at 11 am. In the next 24 hours, India's most populous city received 944 mm of rainfall. The resultant flood killed 450 people (officially), and caused financial damage worth about Rs 4,000 crore. For three days, the water didn't recede.

August 2005: Fever, malaria, dengue, leptospirosis, diarrhoea, cholera. Inquiries, press conferences, public hearings, committees, commissions, terms of reference. Mumbai is back to normal. But Mumbai is asking: how did it happen? Why? nidhi jamwal examines these questions in great detail.

The flood was foretold. The disaster, in all its dimensions -- perhaps not the scale -- was already mapped. For years now, Mumbai's politicians -- of all hues -- have ignored the signs: the crumbling drainage system; the built-over natural drainage; the poisonous landfills where garbage stands 8-10 metres high, exuding poison; the untreated sewage, shamelessly dumped into the Arabian Sea.

Post 26/7, will anything change? Might not. For like the flood, one kind of future for the city has also been foretold. Says Transforming Mumbai into a World-Class City: First Report of the Chief Minister's Task Force: "Our vision is for Mumbai to possess, by 2013, the twin elements of a world-class city: dynamic, job-creating growth and a comfortable quality of life. Our ten-year vision is for Mumbai to be globally distinctive in economic growth and healthcare, and to be in line with global best practice in other parameters like housing and transportation."

Published: Friday 30 September 2005

There's nothing august about Mumbai

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