Don’t just ask what they did for you

July 14, 2009, IBNLive

Reporting on rains in Mumbai invariably takes you to the banks of the Mithi river. The river/nullah (the jury is still out on what it should be called) is believed to be the primary cause of the 26/7 deluge. And every year since that crores have been spent on desilting, cleaning up and even building walls around its banks to prevent the flood waters from getting into people’s homes. Every day before the monsoons the desilting was carried out diligently.

Every year when the river goes over the danger mark, there is a hue and cry about the BMC’s inefficiency. Questions are raised about whether any lessons have been learnt from the deluge and where has all the money gone. But this year we heard a different tune. The difference could be felt as we went with our cameras to the usual water logged areas. In most places BMC workers would reach within half an hour of heavy rains to open the drains and fix pumps. There were regular updates and advisories sent through the media to the citizens. In most areas the water would start receding quickly. So yes, it seems they learnt some lessons this time around.

But even so, the Mithi has crossed the danger level twice this monsoons. One look at the area and you would know that this situation requires much more than BMC efficiency. As I went along the Bandra Kurla road today, it was not just water that I saw flowing. There were plastic bags, torn clothes, old shoes, gunny bags and what not. Every day during the desilting process, along with the mud the BMC workers get tonnes of murky garbage that residents living along the banks throw into the river. Today as we were shooting along the banks we could hardly take a step without stepping into garbage and we are not even talking about slum areas here. There were proper buildings in this area and though everyone’s courtyards were clean there was a lot of muck all along the road and the banks.

Though some residents accepted that the BMC had done a better job this year with the walls built around the banks, there were the usual whiners. But none of them took any responsibility for all the garbage strewn all around. The BMC has been asking people repeatedly not to clog the drains with garbage, but the plea seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

They say when you point fingers at others there are four more that point towards you. But some Mumbaikars seem to be forgetting this. And like my favourite character Calvin says, ‘Life is easier when you have don’t have to take responsibility of your actions.’ So the next time you blame the BMC for the Mithi floods, please think of where you threw that empty packet of chips.



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