An annual feature of Mumbai (pop. 18 million) — the country’s commercial and financial capital — is the heavy damage caused to the city and its productive citizens by the monsoon rains year after year. This year, according to the Indian Meteorological Department, between June 1 and September 24, Mumbai received 3,679.8 mm rain, just short of its highest ever seasonal rainfall of 3,759.7 mm in 1958, causing damage to livelihoods, property and by way of business disruption estimated at Rs.51,000 crore.
However the heaviest rainfall of 1958 is testimony that the annual deluge is not a latter-day phenomenon. According to informed environmentalists the quantum of rain the megalopolis receives annually has remained unchanged for the past 80 years. Moreover prolonged delay in building a motorway to the mainland, a mere 10 km as the crow flies — a project first proposed in the 1970s — because the metro’s powerful politician-builder lobby conspired to keep property prices sky-high, has added to the chaotic congestion of the commercial capital.
To a substantial degree maximum city’s citizenry has brought this misery upon itself. Since 2012 it has continuously elected the Shiv Sena — an organisation with a notorious record of routine extortion, intimidation and skulduggery — to run the city’s municipal government. Under Sena rule the politician-builder lobby went on a haphazard building spree while stalling construction of the Mumbai-Nhava Sheva motorway to the mainland, work on which finally began early this year. The plain truth is that the city’s indifferent middle class doesn’t vote in municipal elections, let alone run for office. Therefore Mumbai’s multiple miseries, including highest rents worldwide and copious flooding every year is self-inflicted misery.
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