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'Mumbai is not a refugee shelter'

August 08, 2005 11:50 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'

'We don't need a government'

The fifth lot of responses are published below almost verbatim:

It's easy to just moan about problems or give some general solutions like "mumbaikars should learn civic sense", "government should be more responsible", etc.... But everybody knows nothing will transpire into action by this talk.

So I think we should talk in terms of "concrete" solutions.

Problem: Administration is lethargic and corrupt.

Bottom line: bureaucrats, like everybody else, need money (and much more money) as motivation

Solution: Double salaries of public workers. Add incentives of good work. And implement NGO-governed "finished work inspection" to check whether the development money actually went into the development. If it went into development of "public servants", implement heavy punishments.

Problem: People are irresponsible towards public property.

Solution: Come up with laws and except criminal cases, laws should include heavy monetary penalties (so it's win-win for both govt and person who commits mistakes).

Problem: Administration gets away by doing very little and consuming inordinate amount of public money.

Solution: The work by public administration should be published for everybody's inspection. This work should be summarised in layman's language for everybody to understand. We are paying you, Mr Bureaucrat. You are answerable to us.

Believe it or not, people learn only by two ways: pain and pleasure. So, make doing wrong things painful and right things more pleasurable.

--Salil Wadnerkar

The latest mob reaction is to crucify the BMC.

This senseless attack of course is led by the news channels, who don't look beyond TRPs.

There was no news channel which ran a single line warning people on Terrible Tuesday about what was building up in the city. They were busy milking the blood of the Gurgaon bloodshed.

In the aftermath of the flooding and the 1,000 odd buffaloes it left dead, it was the much maligned BMC that put people and trucks aided by cranes to clear the carcasses, amid the stench that made most of the people who stayed in the neighbourhood move house.

Ultimately it was the people of this city that brought about this catastrophe upon themselves.

If there is a so-called South Mumbai /North Mumbai divide it is only in the lack of civic sense displayed by the people who live in the northern suburbs.

--Michael Thomas Paul

When a natural calamity hits, only the government can bring people under control.

People vote to elect corporators, MLAs, and MPs, thinking they will offer a helping hand to them in their worst days. People who have lost their homes don't want the government to build for them, but at least they can stand beside them and see the situation they are passing through.

When these people were dying, the MPs and MLAs claimed they too were facing the same problems. If this is the case then there is no need of MPs and MLAs, take them out of Constitution. What's the difference between them and a normal citizen?

The Centre has allotted Rs 15,000 crores to the state, but do you think this money will be utilised for the public? No, it will be distributed among the ministers. So who is to blamed, the people who faced this disaster or the ministers who did not stand by their people during their worst days?

The ministers are giving rubbish answers which are not justified. People are not happy with the government. When the people needed them, they were not there. Only the CM took the initiative for all the people. He has done his duty by sending the commissioner, because he is not expected to be everywhere. That's why there are MLAs and MPs. There's no need for them if only the CM is taking the headache for the people.


58 years since independence we have not learnt to manage precious water. If it rains for two hours in Delhi it chokes all the drainage system and city comes to a standstill.

Bombay is still better than Delhi. The country has a ministry of water resources, and states have flood control departments, but we still have both floods and famine.

We have to manage the precious water, population and encroachments. Water channels need to be created from surplus rainy areas to deficit rainy areas to conserve water and create greenery in semi desert and desert areas.

Whose social responsibility this will be? The private sector, central government, state governments and joint sector companies need to fund such national water management program together.

An authority on the lines of NHAI could be created for such a purpose. Let all citizens contribute one day salary, income for managing water crisis, floods and famine for a populous country like India.

--Dr S C Sharma

When natural calamities like earthquakes and floods occur, it reminds us of how vulnerable we indeed are. Man-made constructions, regardless of how perfect, strong or sophisticated, cannot prevent the fury and devastation that mother nature wreaks on us from time to time, whether we live in New-York, Tokyo or Timbuktu.

The recent loss of precious lives in Mumbai is altogether a different kettle of fish that stinks to high heaven. Shoddy construction, apathy and widespread corruption has not only eroded the landscape with crumbling buildings and debris, but has sapped the will of the people to unite and force the government to take appropriate action.

Backbone, character and a genuine concern for our less fortunate fellow human beings, is what's needed. Blaming karma, reciting mantras and making lame excuses will not help one iota.

Indians are very smart. They have achieved success in every field of endeavour. Alas, however, they refuse to unite because of caste and class consciousness that divides and promotes hatred hampering progress and forcing half the population to remain in abject poverty.

For the common good of all, it is, therefore, imperative that leaders lead instead of lining their own pockets.

When will honesty and integrity prevail? Unfortunately, not ever, in an "Area of Darkness" where people are afraid to testify for fear of witch-hunts and reprisals.

Noel Wise
Calgary, Canada

First of all, the city should be cleared off all the slum dwellers who make up of the bulk of the population. They are the ones who add to the apathy of the city by creating tons of filth.

Areas like Kurla, Kalina, Bandra etc are dumping grounds for filth. People live illegally on the foot hills and elsewhere & are compensated for loss of property etc whenever there is a landslide or so. What for ? Are they paying their taxes anyway?

Slums should be demolished immediately. The corporators are accountable for this mess. Secondly we need a strong administrative head to look at the urgent civic needs of the city. Storm water drains should be constructed to ease the water pressure.etc..

And we call our city as the Manhattan of the east! We should live up to the hype we create in the media about the city. It's over a 100 yrs old, and by now we should be at par with any other world class cities around the world.

It is the people of Mumbai who are to be blamed solely for the disaster.

--A well wisher

Yes our Government should have Disaster Management Team district wise.

It was very sad that our government was helpless. It shows our selection of the wrong person. So I request everyone not to get pressurised by the politicians during the elections. Try to chose a person who is capable of solving the problems, instead of saying we are helpless.

--Jyoti P

Tax waste, Not Work.

Waste tax is levied in most of the EU countries.

--Jawahar Mundlapati

We have very short memories and forget as soon as the issue becomes little old; not even very old.

No doubt; flood situation in Mumbai is worse than Vadodara had to face, but there's a difference.

I was away to Pune when there was rain in Vadodara and when I returned to Vadodara I could see VMC employees cleaning streets at early 3 am in the morning. In Mumbai, Deshmukh declared a holiday for government employees.

Government always thinks that only employees are vote bank and not the rest. How far it is true, no one knows. Otherwise, money collected from tax could never have gone for Haj subsidy. After all; citizens pay taxes for their own welfare, isn't it?

Just the other day the Delhi high court directed that any one catching stray animal from Delhi road should be paid Rs 2,000 and that amount should be collected from Delhi Corporation officers.

The situation is no different in any other town of India. Every where; there is problem of stray dogs, pigs and cows. Building material suppliers use corporation land and make passersby life risky.

Two wheeler repairers do business on road and throw brake and clutch wires. Vendors doing business around station area block roads and earn in thousands. Stinking urinals and toilet are indication of stations. One can recognize from a kilometer distance that there is a bus depot or railway station. Police stations are not spared from cigarette smoking or spitting after pan chewing. Tons of plastics used as carry bags. Most temples are on government land.

But there is silver lining in Delhi high court ruling as stated above, since it shows progress India has made recently due to hard and dedicated work of few individuals. When others always talked of bribes, corruption and bad governance world class companies like Infosys, Wipro have come up. It is time that we force successful upright businessman to participate in government.

-- O G Vanani

First of all Mumbai is not a great city. Nor is any other city in this country.

London and New York are great cities.

  • A city with stray dogs and cattle on the roads is not a great city.
  • A city with roads that turn into potholes after a slight drizzle is not a great city.
  • A city with dug up roads is not a great city.
  • A city with hazardous electrical wires dangling down on the streets is not a great city.
  • A city with open manholes is not a great city.
  • A city with no pedestrian crossings is not a great city.
  • A city where garbage and litter is dumped virtually everywhere is not a great city.
  • A city with four skyscrapers in the centre surrounded by slums is not a great city.
  • A city with miserable drainage systems is not a great city.
  • A city with poor infrastructure is not a great city.
  • A city bought to a grinding halt by mere rain is not a great city.
  • A city where only the poor suffer the most in the event of such calamities is not a great city.
  • And lastly, a city full of corrupt cops, corrupt politicians, incompetent municipal officials, stray dogs, cows, beggars, poor people, slum-dwellers and irresponsible citizens is not a great city.


It's easy for each and every one of us to point fingers at others, including Varna (Rain God).

Instead, let it be a lesson for every one of us to change.

We question waiters in restaurants for good food, a rickshaw driver for overcharging and so on. But we never ask anything about the safe living of our society.

We are worried about our siblings, our relatives, our homes, and that's it.

Nobody cares for a person who is going to die of rain, who stays in a hut near the seashore.

We look at these happenings with a wider view in the initial days or weeks. After a month , people forget and after few months the government too forgets .

Instead of pointing fingers, let us start a better way of looking at the things.

Let us unite and think of the society, and not just our immediate families.

--Prem Karthik

There were days when we people of Mumbai used to live in a compact and soothing way.

In those days there was respect for traffic signals and people used to care about others. But not anymore.

There are more foot bridges and subways, but people only want to cross on the roads.

There was less garbage and plastics on the road now we see only plastics in all the roads or nullahs.

People just do not drive on the road they are supposed to but in times of trouble, they drive from any lane.

Where are the law abiding people?

We need citizens who are responsible, and not all those who just come to Mumbai in trainloads. Mumbai is not a refugee shelter for all and sundry.

--Manoj Shah

When I read the news after the rains that affected the city where I grew up, I am amazed at the way we all still think!

We continue to play the blame game as soon as the disaster strikes. I think, first and foremost we must ask ourselves what we can do now , at this moment, that we are not doing and that can help others.

Also, rather than playing the blame game when things go wrong, each citizen should be more actively involved in doing something when things are normal. We must stop showing "this beat ourselves up" attitude that shows in our national psyche and our approach to all problems whether in politics, cricket or at personal level.


Even though the caption says 'Let the government act' my opinion is 'Let the government out.'

We have a totally centralised and totally inefficient government machinery. The government worker at the field level does not have any major decision making authority, they have to follow umpteen number of redundant and obsolete rules.

Anybody who dares to violate them in the interest of greater good, faces the danger of getting penalized for violating those rules. In India we apply the rules to the book (selectively) and not in the spirit it was intended to. To cut the long story short, if something needs to be done efficiently and quickly, let the government out. It's naive of the Indians to expect everything out of the government.

What the heck, the vast majority of us don't even pay taxes!.

As far as the Mumbai monsoon disaster is concerned, there are three major areas of concern:

Weather Forecasting: I think the time has come to disband the Indian Meteorological Department.

Let the private corporations in, on the condition they need to bring in the state-of-the-art equipment. I think the time is ripe for an exclusive weather channel, they can make money by sponsorships, government aid. If we cant let the private corporations in then hire a bunch of astrologers, they might do better than our IMD.

Infrastructure: It took us 5 years for the Bangalore Greenfield airport project from conception to start the actual construction. Political interference, land mafia, umpteen regulations, corruption, red tape. Bangalore is crumbling and the state government is not doing anything. Which got me thinking, there has to better way of doing things.

i. Make cities of national importance as Union Territories or give them state hood (like Delhi).

ii. Take over critical infrastructure projects from state control and put it under a special ministry reporting to PM.

Another point to ponder: In most developed countries people using water have to pay for sewage also. The money is used for constructing drains, treatment plants and maintenance. How many of us are willing to pay for sewage and also not to throw that used plastic bag into the drain?

Relief and Rescue: Despite a major natural disaster every year, we still struggle for relief and rescue. It bascially boils down to how much we value human life. In India, human life has zero value. The only time life has some value is during elections. Sometimes, we even resurrect the dead to cast the vote. We have a billion of them, who cares if a thousand died in rain storm or a rail accident?

Again here de-centralization is the key. Each city and community has to develop their own relief and rescue plans. Local cities and communities need money and resource to implement these plans.

They won't get the money and resource unless they can make their own basic financial decisions, like how to generate the revenue and how to allocate it.

Yes, it is the ABC of self-governance, de-centralization.

--Tamil Maran

Terrible Tuesday: How Mumbai copes with a calamity

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