Saturday, June 30, 2007

Helpline Numbers

Got these helpline numbers off CNN-IBN .

* Power Supply Reliance: 30303030.

* MSEB: 25686666.

* Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Control room: 22694727.

* For emergency complaints like building or wall collapses, call 1916.

For fallen trees, short circuits or fire, call 101 or 23085991.

* For drainage related complaints, call 1916.

* Drainage control rooms: 23678109 (city), 26146852 (western suburbs) or 25153258 (eastern suburbs) Central Railway Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: 22697330 Dadar: 24143841 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Kurla: 26502475, 25298499 Kalyan: 95251-2311499 Western Railway Call 131 or 22005388 Mumbai Pune Expressway Call 09822498224 Airlines Air India: 28318888 Indian Airlines: 1407 Jet Airways: 56986111 Air Sahara: 30302020 Insurance claims Bajaj Allianz: 5.

TV is now back, flights are taking off. Still, people are being warned by BMC officials to stay indoors.

The clouds open up again

The rain is back. NDTV reports:

Heavy rainfall in Mumbai has flooded the busy Andheri, Worli, Sion, Kurla, Wadala, Chembur and Borivili areas.

The airport in Mumbai has called off all flight operations, reports on Saturday said.

The showers also crippled transport systems on the ground forcing diversions to avoid flooded roads and disrupted rail services.

The weather office has forecast more rainfall throughout Saturday.

There's more from Rediff and CNN-IBN. Peter Griffin SMSs to inform me that Vashi is waist-deep in water in some places, and there's no electricity, and therefore no access to the internet or television reports. Heavy rain is expected to continue today, and staying indoors is advisable.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

200mm of rains later...

Above picture is courtesy today's Mid-day. Text goes "Lying in wait: More than, 1,000 outstation commuters slept at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus last night, as several trains on the Konkan route were delayed due to the rainfall. Many local train commuters who missed the last train also spent the night at the station." (For more pictures of yesterday's chaos, click here)

Indeed, the monsoons have arrived. This is what happened last evening after heavy rains and downpours hit the city (201.2mm in Colaba and 143mm in Santacruz - on Day #1, as per Indian Express).

(News collated from the Times of India, Mumbai Mirror and the Indian Express Newsline.)

  • Western Railways – 19 trains cancelled. Trains ran anywhere between 5 to 35 minutes late. The WR PRO says “The problem was in the Goregaon-Malad stretch”.
  • Central Railways – Trains ran 40 minutes late after being stalled between 6.40pm and 7.30pm as lightening struck an overhead equipment wire between Ghatkopar and Kurla.
  • Roads – Water-logging at S. V. Road at Khar and Santacruz, LBS Marg, Kurla, Hindmata Dadar, Subways at Malad and Santacruz. Incomplete pre-monsoon work led to flooding in Goregaon, Jogeshwari and Kandivali. Note that June 5th was the deadline given by the BMC to complete all digging work. Mohan Kadam (Chief Engineer, Roads) says “If we get a dry spell, we will open all these stretches to traffic within a day or two”.
  • Add to above, waste material like plastic bags, etc collecting over drain entrances. BMC Commissioner Johnny Joseph says “It always happens in the first flush of the monsoon. All the kachra is washed up from all over and it plugs the drains. Once we clear this up, the drains will work smoothly.”
  • Finally, Mr. Joseph adds – “Ward officers, assistant engineers in each ward and all senior officers are monitoring the situation and are prepared to handle the situation”.

Meanwhile at the BMC –
Barely a day after the chief minister inaugurated its much hyped emergency operation centre (EOC) in the basement of its headquarters, the BEST substation next to it was 2.5 feet deep in water. The power went off even as municipal commissioner Johnny Joseph, back from a quick tour of the city, was briefing the press to allay fears about any hazardous situations.”

(Cross posted on my Mumbai Matters blog.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yet another monsoon is upon us...

... and so this old blog gets active again. The BMC has sent out SMS warnings that heavy rains are expected in Mumbai in the next 48 hours. So if you're reading this now, do stock up on essential supplies in case you're stuck at home, and don't travel any more than absolutely necessary.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Remembrance Week - 26th December, 2005 - 1st January, 2006

WWH Remembrance WeekLast year, on the 26th December, an earthquake, and then a tsunami, killed, wounded, or impoverished hundreds of thousands of people in South Asia.

During the course of the year, other disasters took their toll too. Most devastating of them: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the South-East coast of the USA; and another enormous earthquake near Pakistan's border with India.

These disasters took their immediate toll, and, each time, the world tried to help. But as calamity piled upon calamity, there has been a certain amount of fatigue. Perhaps people's stock of goodwill has run low. Perhaps seeing too much suffering hardens us.

But, the fact is, the suffering from those disasters has not ceased. Parts of South Asia have still not recovered from December 26th, 2004. In the USA, normalcy hasn't returned to New Orleans. In Pakistan, thousands are still homeless, and may not survive the harsh Himalayan winter.

They need your help.

Last December and this January, the online community came together as never before to help in the aid efforts in South-East Asia. The lessons learned there were put to use, and improved upon, when the other tragic events of the year unfolded.

Can we harness that goodwill, that togetherness, that willingness to help once more?

The WorldWideHelp group would like you to join us in Remembrance Week. Here's what we suggest you do.

WWH Remembrance WeekUse your blogs, your home pages, your wikis, your newsletters. Link to your favourite charities and NGOs, write a paragraph about them and the work they are doing, and ask your readers to make a donation. (If you'd like to find some more charities and NGOs, please take a look at this page on our TsunamiHelp wiki, this one on our KatrinaHelp wiki, or this one on our QuakeHelp wiki.)

Please link back to this page to help pass the word. You can use the image above.

Please use this Technorati Tag: .
Here's the code:
<a href="" rel="tag">Disaster Remembrance Week</a>

In this post, we have a few more banners and buttons, with intructions on the code you must post to use them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Red tape after a catastrophe

Bobby Jindal, who almost became governor of Louisiana and is now a Congressman there, writes in the Wall Street Journal about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
There have already been a number of instances in which an overly inhibitive bureaucracy prevented an appropriate response to the disaster. For example, on Wednesday of last week a company called my office. With only three hours before rising waters would make the mission impossible, they were anxious to send a rescue helicopter for their stranded employees. They wanted to know who would give them a go-ahead.

We could not identify the agency with authority. We heard that FEMA was in charge, that the FAA was in charge, and that the military was in charge. I went in person to talk with a FEMA representative and still could not get a straight answer. Finally we told the company to avoid interfering with Coast Guard missions, but to proceed on its own. Sometimes, asking for forgiveness is better than asking for permission.
Jindal lays out some more examples of red tape in his article, and suggests a solution:
[W]e need, in the future, a single, strong leader with the power to override the normal process restrictions and get things done. That individual must be identified from the very beginning. But below that person, other individuals up and down the line need to know they can make obvious and sensible calls in an emergency.
That is exactly the reason that many people, including Milind Deora, are calling for Mumbai to have a strong, empowered mayor in place who can guide the city after a disaster like the recent floods. That is needed at the national level as well, where a single individual should have the power to coordinate all disaster management in a crisis. We have much the same problems in India as the ones Jindal talks about, and need to find a way to cut through the red tape. Assigning responsibility clearly and streamlining processes is the logical way forward.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Self-inflicted damage

Joel Kotkin, the author of "The City: A Global History," writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The key to understanding the fate of cities lies in knowing that the greatest long-term damage comes not from nature or foreign attacks, but often from self-infliction. Cities are more than physical or natural constructs; they are essentially the products of human will, faith and determination.

A city whose residents have given up on their future or who lose interest in it are unlikely to respond to great challenges. Decaying cities throughout history--Rome in the fifth century, Venice in the 18th--both suffered from a decayed sense of civic purpose and prime. In this circumstance, even civic leaders tend to seek out their own comfortable perches within the city or choose to leave it entirely to its poorer, less mobile residents. This has been occurring for decades in the American rust belt--think of Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis--or to the depopulated cores in old industrial regions in the British Midlands, Germany and Russia.
There's something to think about here for citizens of all of India's cities. Our apathy can be worse than any natural disaster.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Our Flood & Their Flood

I have been watching images on various news channels showing the devastation left behind by Katrina.

I have been following Maitri’s blog on the more personalised aspect of surviving Katrina.

And one thing struck me - however developed you may be, how ever well trained your response teams may be, when it comes to dealing with Nature’s fury - all that can be achieved is minimisation of damage. not much else.

With something like Katrina - the last one week has been “Katrina is coming” news all over the place. Evacuation has been in full swing. Yet the loss of lives has been phenomenal. Property destruction was anyway a given, nothing that could be done as far as houses or vehicles are concerned.

One of the things i do like about the MSM in the US, is their ability to highlight the positive, instead of finding just the negatives to shout about. In that sense the media in Mumbai, when it came to covering our own terrible Tuesday, was caught up in sensationalising rather than providing information. This an article from the NYT highlights rescue operations:

“If we come across a body floating?” Sgt. Chris Fisher of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office asked.
“Let it go,” Maj. Bobby Woods replied, as Sergeant Fisher and other rescue workers prepared for the day’s mission. “Let’s first go for life.”

There were policemen here too, ill equipped - who did much the same. But, there was no highlighting of the positive, until much, much later. Only the cacophony of ‘you should have’, ' you f***ed up. Even today there is so much of finger pointing and so much of negativism that it is quite difficult to get past the negativism and move on to do something constructive.

Maybe, it is time that the press in India realised that they don’t just have a responsbility to the bottom line of their newspapers. They also have have societal responsibility. And maybe it is time that they grew up to the maturity challenge.

Here is a much more developed nation, with a finely trained disaster management system, where evacuation of people had began earlier. And yet, on the day, there wasn’t a thing that could be done to prevent mayhem. And reports talk about weeks before people can go back to normalcy. I am not saying that we need to let up on Government inefficiencies, but there is a time when we need understand that there is only so much that can be done in a given situation. And all these recriminations of ‘you should have’ needs to give way to a slight degree of balance. We seem to like to score points. They leave that till later - after the calamity has passed and life goes back to normal.

Like in the case of Mumbai, part of the problem seems to be greed - and the ability of business and Government to stand by and rape the environment without any thought of the consequence.This a readers’ opinion from the NYT:

Upstream levee-building has also had the effect of turning a sluggish river into a fire hose, helping to destroy marshes and barrier islands that once provided some protection. The steady destruction of coastal wetlands by residential development and years of oil and gas drilling hasn’t helped much either. The combination of subsiding land and rising seas has put the Mississippi Delta about three feet lower than it was 100 years ago.

I guess that the Free Market is not as free as we think. Sometimes the price tag is so high that generations to come end up paying for it.

The one thing that we didn’t get to see on terrible tuesday here, which unfortunately seems to be happening in New Orleans is looting.
This is not the first time that one has seen pictures like this come out of the west. We saw similar pictures out of Gujrat during the riots. And, at a very primal level it is scary. The break down of civil society as we know it.

I hope that people there are as safe as they can be. That they get back and resume a normal life, as soon as possible. That they are reunited with their families and loved ones soon. All that we have in a time like this is hope.

cross posted on a POV