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Sunday, June 21, 2009

‘High tides plus rains may pose threat this week’

City's catchment areas get good rain

Mumbai: Although the monsoon has not yet officially arrived in Mumbai, it has rained well in at least four catchment areas on the outskirts of the city since Saturday.
    While Upper Vaitarna recorded rainfall of 49 mm, Bhat
sa received 40 mm, Tansa 27 mm and Modak Sagar 48 mm. "This is a good sign. It should continue raining steadily and uniformly. It will then make a difference and the lake levels will rise,'' said hydraulic engineer S S Korlekar.
Mumbai: Such is the timing of the high tides this year that Mumbaikars, it seems, may have to brace themselves against flooding from the first day of monsoon itself. Data provided by the BMC shows that the city will witness high tides over the 4.5-m mark from Monday to Saturday, just when the first showers are expected to lash the city. It rained in some parts of Mumbai and the suburbs on Sunday.
    While Thursday will see the highest tide of the month—4.97 m at 2:24 pm, Wednesday will witness a tide of 4.95 m at 1:41 pm. However, according to civic officials, this will pose a problem if heavy rain coincides with the high tide.
    Meanwhile, Met officials said that the monsoon is almost here and the rain-bearing clouds are advancing at a fast pace. "The monsoon has advanced on more parts of the central Arabian sea, central Maharashtra, north Konkan and most parts of Karnataka. In fact, it has now reached Alibaug, Pune, Sholapur and Hyderabad. There is a lot of monsoon-related development and thunder clouds are looming over the city. We are hoping that the clouds precipitate in a day or two,'' said Dr R V Sharma, deputy di
rector general of meteorology in Mumbai.
    The civic body has been preparing for a spate of high tides coupled with heavy rains in the months of June, July and August and they claim they are prepared to face such

a combination even at an early stage. While officials admit that the first showers are always more difficult to handle than the ones that come later, they are hopeful that the city will not be thrown out of gear. "We are trying to minimise inconvenience as far as possible. Usually, the first heavy showers cause flooding as a lot of floating material and other dirty matter gets washed out. Once that is cleared, by July, everything gets acclimatised to the monsoon,'' said S S Shinde, deputy municipal commissioner (disaster man
agement). "Though low-lying areas will get flooded when it rains heavily, the problems will not be severe,'' he added.
    Having taken many floodmitigation measures—widening and de-silting the Mithi River, widening drains and clearing railway drains—the BMC is expecting luck to also play a part in determining if the city goes under this monsoon.
    According to officials, Mumbai will be able to cope with rain of up to 350 mm on non-high tide days. Even if there is water-logging, the water should recede quickly in low-lying areas. The weather department pegs rainfall between 124.5 and 244.4 mm as very heavy rain and rainfall more than 244.5 mm as extremely heavy rain. "As soon as there is low tide, the water starts receding. There is no reason to worry,'' said Shinde.
    According to officials, if the city gets even 75 mm of rain when the tide is high on new moon days, water-logging of up to 25 ft can occur and this may not recede before the next high tide. "Mumbai was hit by heavy rain on July 26, 2005 and people were stranded for hours because the water did not recede before the next high tide. But at that time, the intensity of the rain was too high and a 24-hour rainfall figure of 994 mm was recorded,'' said an official.

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