Flights, trains in turmoil as rains hit India’s finance hub

by BLOOMBERG

NEW DELHIMany flights were cancelled and trains were running late in Mumbai, India’s financial hub yesterday as rains disrupted normal life for the second time in less than a month, highlighting infrastructure challenges in India’s megacities.

Heavy rains are predicted in Mumbai, home to the nation’s two largest stock exchanges and the central bank, and its suburbs in the next few hours, according to India’s weather office.

Schools and colleges of Mumbai metropolitan area were ordered shut by Vinod Tawde, the education minister for Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.

Adding to the woes of the worst downpour in three weeks, high tide was forecast in the coastal city beginning noon until 6pm yesterday.

The second such disruption since Aug 29 highlights the lack of infrastructure in a city, where the population has surged to 18 million. Authorities are finally investing in building a mass transit system, while residents still rely on a century-old drainage system.

While no reports of any fatalities came in yesterday, operations of Mumbai’s suburban trains that serve eight million people daily, were disrupted.

“Mumbai needs much better disaster preparedness,” said Ajit Ranade, chief economist at the Aditya Birla Group,

“Given that rainfall patterns — quantity, timing and geographical distribution — are all changing, it calls for much higher levels of preparedness.” — Bloomberg