The 13 lakh residents of the fast-developing Vasai-Virar belt, whose road links with Mumbai were snapped on Monday and rail links on Tuesday, stayed cut off from the rest of the city for most of Wednesday as well despite respite from rain.
Several areas and roads were still waterlogged, autorickshaws and civic buses stayed off the roads, and power supply, disconnected early on Tuesday, was restored to the entire stretch only by 7.45pm – that is, after 37 hours.
Locals fell seriously short of essentials as trucks that bring in milk, bread and other items could not reach many areas due to flooding and neighbourhood grocers and other shops stayed shut.
Though local trains took off on Wednesday morning, services were restored gradually through the day, and the unavailability of rickshaws and buses made access to railway stations difficult.
Anger mounted as the crisis, which began as rain pounded the belt from last weekend, had still not ended despite a break from the showers. “It is a shame that a region so close to Mumbai remains cut off for so long,” Chinmay Gavankar, a Vasai resident, said.
Many families could not step out of their homes for the third day running. “We could do nothing, not even take a bath. There was no water, little water for drinking and no rations with supplies cut. It was like living on an island with no contact with anyone and resources diminishing,” said another Vasai resident, Navin Gupta.
Mumbai too got relief on Wednesday with the showers stupping for most of the day but IMD officials said rain could pick up again from July 13.
After 37 hours of power outage — the longest duration in Vasai-Virar region in recent years – all the 13 lakh residents in this fast-developing belt finally got electricity back by 7.45pm on Wednesday. Power was restored in a staggered manner since late afternoon, but even for those who got it back before the rest, the cut lasted 32-33 hours.
And despite restoration of rail links with Mumbai and respite from rain, many roads were waterlogged and essentials were in short supply.
The five lakh consumers with power connections in the region got relief after more than a day. “There was nothing to fall back on – no lights, no fans, no TV, no internet connection, and our mobile phones and other phones were dead,” said a resident of Vasai East, who called it was one of the most horrendous moments of his life.
Some residents took the plunge into knee-deep water in the morning and set out for work as train services had been restored. But autorickshaws and civic buses stayed off roads, and residents said local grocery shops too were shut.
Rutuja Naik, a student from Boling, Virar, said there was no way she could get to the station. Drinking water was an issue, and her family had to manage with basic food, she said.
At Suncity, Vasai (W), an anxious father, Sharad, took to social media seeking help for his infant daughter who needed hospitalisation. Sharad wrote he could see nothing but water surrounding his building and had no idea how to rush his daughter to hospital. Cops from Manickpur responded to his message and arrived at his home using tyre tubes. The infant was admitted to Aastha hospital in Vasai, where her health is said to be stable.
In Nalasopara’s Samelpada, people continued to wade through knee-deep water, and water entered many ground-floor flats in the township, ruining furniture and gadgets. At Ami Park, ground-floor residents stayed put on upper floors waiting for water in their homes to recede. Ground-floor houses in Vasai’s Manickpur too were waterlogged, and electric meter rooms of many housing societies remained under water.
While in villages in Vasai, Nalasopara and Virar, the water receded faster due to proximity to the sea, the eastern side stayed flooded. Virar resident Diwakar Sharma said, “Feels like we are living in the stone age.”
Those who took the local train to work were worried about their families. “I have waded through water to reach the station and come to my office in south Mumbai,” said an office-goer. “But I am worried as my family members are still there and there is no way of contacting them,” he said.
The first local from Virar to Churchgate ran at 6.22am, and by afternoon, the other fast line was restored as well.
A Mahatransco official said the power outage was carried out as a ‘precautionary measure’ as there was massive waterlogging at the sub-station catering to the region. “Water levels had not receded till morning and we had to continue the cuts throughout the afternoon. In fact, there was no problem with the power sub-station, it was just a precaution,” the official said.
Government authorities said relief measures were undertaken to rescue those stranded in waterlogged areas and to ensure there was no untoward incident during the power outage.
A few locals said a police jeep had brought 3 cans of diesel for two housing society generators. Locals also helped each other, providing basic provisions including drinking water to neighbours.