The stretch between Vasai and Virar was plunged into darkness on Tuesday as power supply was cut off in the wake of waterlogging.
Dependent entirely on the suburban railway network since road connectivity had already been snapped since Monday, the 13 lakh residents in this belt found themselves cut off from Mumbai as heavy rain battered their areas from Monday night. Till 10.30am alone, Vasai had recorded 249mm rainfall, more than the July average of 238mm.
With the weather department forecasting very heavy rainfall until Thursday, locals feared they would soon run out of essentials, as they already had of their mobile phone batteries, with little hope of power being restored anytime soon. Over 5 lakh consumers had to go without power and water supply for 16 hours since 1am, and by Tuesday evening almost all the urban and rural areas were without electricity.
The belt has seen a huge increase in construction activity in the last 15 years, with wetlands giving way to highrises, said activists who attributed the flooding to neglect of green concerns. Marcus Dabre, 70-year- old leader of the Harit Vasai movement, said the region turned into a lake on Tuesday as lakes, ponds and other natural water bodies had been destroyed. He claimed more wetlands would be ruined as MMRDA had demarcated 1,560 acres for development on the lines of BKC.
“The wetlands prevented flooding,” Dabre said. Nalasopara-based environmentalist Ravindra Mane said most buildings in the township were dangerously surrounded by water. Water on tracks too reached dangerous levels. “On Monday I could not reach the train station as roads were flooded. On Tuesday, tracks were submerged,” said Nalasopara resident Rajesh Bambani. Asha Dsouza (27) stepped out of her Vasai home to head to the hospital for her delivery. She was caught in the floods outside her building and rescued by the fire brigade using a tube boat. “I have never seen this kind of flooding,” Dsouza said. In Vasai’s Samta Nagar, the kin of Sayeed Khan could not get an ambulance to take his body to Malad. Khan had died of cardiac arrest; his body had to be first taken in a rescue boat before it was carried in a tempo.
An MSEDCL official said waterlogging at Vasai sub-station forced a power shutdown. Mahatransco officials said at 11pm that power supply could be restored in “the next 2 to 3 hours” subject to water levels receding.