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Friday, July 29, 2005

Still far from normal

Binoo Nair of Mumbai Mirror writes:
[The] rain may be over but the pain has just begun. The statistics cry out loud. In a train meant for 1800 people, almost 5000 travel on it during peak time. Now imagine if suddenly 52 trains were pulled out of this over-packed system. That's what's happened after Tuesday's flood. On Monday, when you're getting to work, many 12 coach trains won’t be there.

Now, let's look at the the buses. Of the 3600 BEST buses in the city that ferry 46 lakh commuters a day, 900 have been destroyed.
Read the full thing, in which Nair pithily dismisses the comforting cliche that Mumbai is "limping back to normal".

Mumbai Mirror also has a revealing story in which various people who run the city or parts of its infrastructure speak about the lessons they learned from the cloudburst. Vilasrao Deshmukh, Maharashtra's chief minister, says that a separate department is being set up for disaster management, and he thinks that will improve the system. More government doesn't necessarily mean better governance, and we hope that a mechanism will also be set up to hold the said department accountable if they fail to be proactive enough with regard to future tragedies.

After all, according to a previous report, a disaster cell was set up "to take stock of the preparedness of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for the monsoon season," but, as a senior official was quoted as saying in the report, "[t]he monsoon situation was never discussed at meetings of the disaster-management cell." The next disaster to strike Mumbai may not be due to rain, and the task of a disaster-management cell or department is to prepare for different kinds of eventualities. (This doesn't mean, of course, that we indiscriminately hold the government responsible for all manners of natural disasters. Sometimes there's only so much you can do.)

Also, here are some slideshows Rediff has put up with some pretty affecting pictures of the tragedy and its aftermath: 1, 2, 3 and 4. And for what it's worth, Pervez Musharraf expresses his condolences.