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'We don't need a government'

August 05, 2005 13:21 IST
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What do you think needs to be done by the government and the great people of Mumbai to ensure such a disaster does not occur again? 

Tell us!

Earlier responses: 'Stop blaming the rains'

'Mumbaities are equally to blame'

'Mumbai is the filthiest city'

The fourth lot of responses are published below almost verbatim:

How many remember that in the early 1960s, (Singapore Prime Minister) Le Kwan Yu had expressed a wish to make Singapore into another Mumbai (then called Bombay)?

The irony is that today every neta talks of making Mumbai into another Shanghai, nobody is talking of making it another Singapore. For that city of Le Kwan Yu has gone far ahead of Mumbai.

It is obvious to everyone that the infrastructure of the city has failed to keep pace with its expansion. Maharashtra politicians have very little interest in the city other than making individual fortunes and siphoning off the revenues to their own constituencies, mostly in Western Maharashtra.

The Central govt gives it a step-motherly treatment since Mumbai politicians never fight for the rights of their city. So a fare paying Mumbai commuter is equated with the ticketless traveller in Kolkata because at the slightest provocation the Kolkattans burn trams and buses, so they have to be listened to.

Delhi is pampered with a Metro on revenues earned in Mumbai since the rulers live there. Every railway minister pumps in resources into an economic black hole called Bihar.

Can Mumbaikars do something? Here is a Gandhian approach:

Come August 31, Mumbaikars have to file their Income Tax returns.

In any case the tax is already paid, so as a mark of protest and warning not take Mumbai for granted, let all the mumbaikars decline to file their income tax returns, unless the government gives a firm commitment of adequate funding for infrastructure and slum rehabilitation.

If you agree with this peaceful defiance, SMS your friends. Let us all mumbaikars act with unity!

-- A proud Mumbaikar

Help Mumbai!

By the time my e-mail is printed, I hope the flood subsides and the Mumbaikar Rises!!

We all need to first accept the fact that Mumbai at this point of time is unprepared for any emergencies, be it flood, earthquake or any other disaster.

We can blame it on the government local, state and national, the BMC or the BEST and get away with it satisfying ourselves that they are a worthless bunch of highly overpaid and under worked staff.

How many of us would actually work for the same amount of money and get into and clean sewers or pick garbage from all the streets?

How many of us would like going to the place where there are around 2,600 dead buffaloes to clear their carcasses? I am assuming none or one in a hundred thousand.

For all I know they are a bunch of overworked staff along with lots of their own problems. I would thank them if they could get Mumbai running in two days time after all the damage and not complain.

The question I would ask is, what could I have done to avert this damage?

How many times have I thrown a waste in a plastic bag on the road when I thought no one was watching me?

How many times have I spat on the very roads that I have grown up?

What have I done when I saw someone throw garbage on the road? Did I turn a blind eye or did I tell them off?

Have I ever thrown flowers into the creek after some function?

All these are questions Mumbaikar need to ask themselves. People peeing and crapping on street ends, gardens are too common a sight. Along with the hundreds of people who play Kho- Kho along the railway lines every time I travel.

We complain. But what are we doing? How many of us sat at home watching television getting awed by the news, felt we could become a overnight celebrity by saving a drowning person and then realised that we are safer at home than risking ourselves and continued arguing whether Ganguly play or not in the next one day match?

I am not sure how much are the BMC staff numbers. But are their numbers in reality able to cope with the numbers in Mumbai? For this not to happen again I have some suggestions: -

1. Outsource the cleaning of streets and sewages to cleaning companies – This will reduce numbers in BMC staff as well as with proper administration help keep the city clean. Also by starting out in certain parts of the city and monitoring their performance expand it out to whole of Mumbai. But again care should be taken that it is given to people who have an interest in cleaning Mumbai, not money of Mumbaikar's.

2. Outsource the maintenance of roads and road works and if any road has been improperly done or work carried out take away his contract immediately with no second chances. Carry out satisfaction surveys from the people of the locality rather than tapping the pockets of self and the contractor. Check if roads are in good health before and after monsoons.

3. Form people committees in local areas to address local problems. Set aside funds for these committees to allocate the funds, not for solving personal problems, but those the BMC is not addressing.

4. Make a list of areas that get flooded every monsoon and address those issues year after year. Just because work was carried out one year and there was no flooding does not mean that the issue is automatically resolved the next year.

5. Please, please build more toilets and get rid of railway lines of the " Kho Kho " players. This is a suggestion though I don't think it is practical. Because assuming one charges them 1 rupee per person for using the toilet it does not seem a big amount. But however if there are 4 in a family and each one uses it twice a day it costs Rs 8 and then multiply that by 30 it works out to Rs 240 per month which would be quiet a big amount for a family to use a toilet. But this is one issue that needs to be immediately addressed if Mumbai's hygiene needs to be improved.

In short BMC needs to cut down on its own staff and needs to be better at administration more so than actually working at tasks themselves in today's age. Also for efficient methods the people and the authorities have to work in together rather than each one complaining individually about the other.

I conclude by saying that even after 900 deaths life in Mumbai will continue as normal as though nothing has happened whereas after 54 deaths London has become very picky and fidgety.

This is not something to be proud of though. It's time we in Mumbai started putting a value on our life as a person, as a human, and above all as an Indian.

Then we can truly say The Rising has begun!!

-- Arun Venkateswaran, a Mumbaite currently in UK and eager to get back!

There is no alternative to hard work, accountability and dedication.

For years we used to say bad things about India and the Indian public.

Slowly, a change is taking place and we now talk of being the largest economy, UN membership and so on.

But remember, this is due to sheer hard work and dedication of few individuals. Narayan Murthy of Infosys and others have come up in the same corrupt society in which we leave.

We have great judiciary system, but some has to think of PIL:

1. How can the government think of declaring a holiday for the sake of 1% at the cost of rest? This is precisely what happens when some dignitary dies.

2. Charity should begin at home. Do not visit temples built on unauthorized place, do not buy from hawkers crowding stations, do not accept plastic bags etc.

3. Cultivate awareness about duties to society and nation. It is shame and blot on us that all the television channels air serials which have no theme at all. Most of us waste time and electricity which could have been productive.

4. 18 of the ministers contacted to participate in 'Humlog turned down the request; this shows the type of ministers we have.

5.Force upright businessmen to join politics, rather than electing corrupt, dishonest politicians.

-- O G Vanani

I am not a resident of Mumbai, and the following doesn't apply only to Mumbai but to every village in India.

It is really frightening to see that the government machinery was at its slowest pace in the relief measures. But I'm bowled with the spirit of every person in Mumbai at this time who has given something to help their compatriots.

At this juncture we should analyse the positive and negative aspects and find the solution to end the dependence on the government to act. Let us be a bit practical. India is a country where the government acts last. So let us stop depending on the government.

People are better equipped to reach out and help than the government. Expecting the government to do something and we waiting till we die is really absurd.

Dear Indians, please stop depending on the government. We need to initiate self help groups. This has been displayed effectively during the Mumbai rains. Mumbai u can show the way to the entire country. Self help is the best help. Don't vote in the elections. Tell them you can govern yourself better than someone governing you.

--Kesavan M

  • Clean the city -- VVV Imp --which will stop spreading diseases.
  • Use anti disease sprays --to kill disease spreading bacteria
  • Try to provide people with food at flood affected areas
  • Try to predict rains as correctly as possible to be well prepared

Parag Lawate

I am not talking of environmental damage that man has done over the years that could have caused the cloudburst. But of human tragedy that could have been avoided.

Let me admit that I am no expert in city administration. But one needs no doctorate to see what's wrong with our system that is just unable to handle any environmental disaster.

Lets face it, we cannot predict or prevent a tsunami, a cloudburst, a flood an earthquake. But the least we can do is to be prepared to face it. It's like putting on a helmet in the game of cricket, that when an odd ball comes at our face, we aren't left stunned with a broken nose.

What stunned me yesterday was the picture of Mumbai city's makeshift help line: just about a dozen people with equal number of phone lines for a city of 18 million. Which is more than a million people per person. How helpful will that be is anybody's guess.

Why don't we have a full-fledged disaster management teams in each town, or at least to begin in all the metro cities?

Enroll its citizens as volunteers; train them on various disaster management techniques. Stock up emergency relief material like inflatable boats, tents or whatever kind of material that is required in that town over time. This has to be done on a sunny day so when a disaster strikes, even if the official machinery is out of gear, there is a whole big voluntary community that is quick to react and act.

To coordinate this a full-fledged disaster management control center should be there in each of the towns.

Unless this happens, in the place of relief all we'll get to see a bunch of political leaders doing aerial surveys as if it were some wild reserve in Africa. What is required is not hundreds of crores of rupees or any massive infrastructure buildup or foreign technical help but just some common sense and building of a disaster management community.

After all life is important.

--Mohan Kumar

We have witnessed the worst ever-natural calamity that drowned Mumbai completely. This can be a face-off for the country, which is struggling to prove that it is heading towards a developed status.

A city, which is the financial capital of India, with the highest population in India, could not come in terms with what had happened in 24hrs and continues to be in shock mode even today. The political and administrative machinery was running around in chaos creating more confusion, doing nothing. (Or maybe many things, which equaled nothing).

Even though it was very clear from decades that Mumbai is a high-risk zone for natural calamities, there were no plans. The same heavy rains created the Bombay High fires (indirectly), even though huge human error played the major part. It seems unbelievable that rain for a day or two can bring this much hit for a city;

  • Water level rose more than a storey high in many places
  • The warning & communication systems did not work
  • Traffic was standstill for more than 20 hrs, and people were inside their vehicles all these time without even food or water to drink. Many abandoned their vehicles and walked.
  • Air, Train traffic came to standstill because of flooded run-ways and railroads.
  • Loss of human lives – exceeded 900!!
  • The next day a rumour claims 19 lives in a stampede!
  • All the business in the city halted.
  • The same rain caused high tides in the sea and eventually becoming the reason for the Bombay High fires.
  • Material loss 15,000 to 20,000 crores plus 80,000 barrels of crude oil per day accumulating loss for at least next 6 months.!! This could be the biggest financial loss of this tragedy.
  • Loss of animals – 15000+
  • Personal losses will multiply these figures.

It was shocking to see that the city administration had no plans to alleviate the affect of this flooding even with city's proximity to the sea. Drainage system simply failed. The infrastructure experts confirm that these are the aggregate results of all wrong decisions (corruption?) made over time to time without foresight.

India claims itself to be a global power, but still lacks a good weather forecast system. The system failure was evident from the interview (NDTV) with Mr Deshmukh (the CM of Maharashtra), which exposed the sheer lack of planning and ownership.

He was trying to view the calamity as a helpless common man on the street, not as the person who is responsible for moving administrative system for avoiding/reducing the affect of rains. Once again the political machinery proved useless for this kind of situations.

This was not about high-end infrastructure, but this was about basic (necessary) infrastructure, suitable for the "expected weather." When the politicians were enjoying with the money of taxpayer, the Disaster Recovery Plans ended up just a paper document.

The "glorified city" lacked everything even when it is located in a strategic geographic zone for the country. If this was the effect of an unprecedented rain, then think about something like a tsunami!!

I agree with the observation that the CMs of Tamil Nadu and Kerala deserve a pat on their shoulders for the way in which they handled the tsunami tragedy by immediately mobilizing the administration & even the system itself.

The Maharashtra CM proved far incompetent to take care of this "disaster," which was far less destructive than a tsunami.

We cannot claim a seat in the developed country club with this careless attitude by the leadership. They are in a way responsible for this loss and can no way wash their hands off.

It is a shame that there was not even an emotional value/importance given to the people who lost their lives. They were just statistical figures in the loss estimate sheet. Indirectly this points how corrupt the system is, leaking from everywhere.

I agree that the rains broke all time record, but the aftermath could have been much lesser if the city planning was proper. It's shocking to see Mumbai still shivering for the last 5-6 days.

The people deserve a better life, better security and better consideration. Excuses are not answers when you are trying to project yourself high among others. There has to be a proactive system and not a reactive system with high starting inertia. It's high time our politicians realize the importance of the job they are assigned to.

--Naveen TK

Mumbaites are solely to blame.

A common sight that is seen day in and day out, people clean their handbags and throw all the spare scraps of paper on the road.

Ladies in the trains cut the day's veggies and throw the cuttings in the train. College students eat snacks and throw the paper on the pavements. Hawkers leave behind a whole lot of trash and garbage after a day's work on the streets. Roadside eateries wash their pots and pans over a storm drain.

If so much trash is going to be accumulated in the streets of Mumbai day after day, little wonder that the city really resembles a huge garbage collection point.

Blaming the Government, RIL, BMC is not the solution. What could Anil Ambani do if slums are developing around the transformers? He has only inherited the mantle a few weeks ago. What could he have done better than any of us? Can we not ensure that we don't throw things out of bus windows, trains and do out bit to keep the city clean?

How do you expect the BMC to clear up after all of us? We behave like spoilt kids by messing up and then expecting others to clean up after us. Typical Mumbai Mentality!!!

Have you not seen the occupants of posh cars eat bananas or other snacks and throw the waste on a clean road? Imagine what the common man who sees this thinks! "Well!! if he can throw trash on the road, I certainly can!!"

If Sonia G wants to foster slums, then let her take them to her backyard and keep them there. She has enough place and the patience to put up with all this.

The CM may have been caught napping as we feel so, but remember, he was the mane to start cleaning all this up when he was stopped rather abruptly by the lady from Delhi. Mr CM, I think it's a case of Do and be damned and Don't do and be damned!!

Let's leave the Netas alone, it is good that they stayed away or we would have to pander to their wishes. They are good for nothing but votes!!

Building slums all over the place and putting up buildings by builders who have no common sense have not done any good for Mumbai.

Take for example the picture that we portray to the foreigners who land here on our shores today with business for the BPO and IT industries. What picture do they carry home to their people?

Corruption is rampant!! Ask me about it!! I have enough to say on the matter to cover many volumes!! Our landlord was one such corrupt individual who evicted my family from Dadar and put us on the roads.


I - Initiate action, however small

M - Make everyone responsible

P - Practise not Preach

R - Resolve to keep the city clean

O - Obliterate garbage everywhere

V - Veto the role of others(Delhi) telling us what to do

E -Eradicate Corruption

Jai Hind!! Jai Maharashtra!!

--Ravi Miranda

I was born and brought up in Bombay but I have been away for the past 5 years.

And every time I go back to Bombay to visit, I can see that the population and pollution have increased and I question myself, "Why haven't things changed much in all these years?"

Some might say that we have new flyovers, new movie theatres, new mobile technology, new fashions etc etc.

But not the things that matter the most!

No cleanliness, lot of dirt and dust, plastic bags everywhere, trash cans overflowing, trains and buses crowded at all times ! People answering nature's call at roadsides and railway tracks !

Yes, the government is to be blamed but people are at fault too.

And I think it would be wise to do things ourselves rather than wait for the government to do something, because that might not happen. Some time back, residents of Lokhandwala (I am not sure) had started saying NO to plastic bags and were using paper or cloth bags. Everybody should implement this rule because we all need to take responsibility for our environment. We should make sure that we don't throw garbage on the roads, railway tracks and any place other than the trash cans.

Society people are quite active when it comes to collecting money and donations for Navratri, Gokulashtami etc. Maybe now onwards society should come together and do something fruitful. They should have monthly meetings, check the cleanliness for their roads, make sure that the building is safe and have a plan what to do in case of fire, rain or other natural calamity.

We should not cast a blind eye towards ugly things but take matters in our own hands and do something.

I don't hate the Shiv Sena activists, but I hope they were helping Mumbaikars on that day ! I have seen them closing down shops, colleges and stopping trains and buses when a fellow Shiv Sainik dies, but hopefully they did or do something to make Mumbai a better place.

I am a Mumbaiite at heart and it hurts to see Mumbai being defaced continuosly. I love the spirit of Mumbai, which was proven once again when local people helped each other.

Till the time we all don't value each and every human being and each and every life, and inculcate a civic sense in everyone, things will never change.


Terrible Tuesday: Mumbai copes with a calamity


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