The bustling life of Vasai-Virar township in Maharashtra’s Palghar district came to a standstill after torrential rains lashed it on Thursday. Heavy rains lashed the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, causing water-logging and power outages in various parts of the region. The situation was particularly dire in Vasai, Nalasopara and Virar areas, where water entered ground floor flats and submerged markets and salt fields.
As rain water flooded the area, it disrupted road traffic, leaving commuters stranded and creating a challenging situation for the local administration. Residents had to wade through knee-deep water as roads were flooded.
The seriousness of the situation prompted the authorities to take immediate action. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) quickly deployed teams to the affected areas. NDRF teams worked tirelessly to rescue the stranded residents of the flood-hit areas. In a remarkable operation, NDRF rescued 23 persons, and shifted them safely to Rajavali in Vasai.
While the NDRF focused on rescue operations, the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC) was working round the clock to clear roads and provide relief to affected communities.
An eyewitness said the salt schemes on the Western Railway tracks at Vasai East and Naigaon West were severely inundated, further complicating the situation for commuters and disrupting train services.
Veteran environmental activist Sameer Vartak expressed his concern about unplanned development in the area, which has added to the problem of floods. Vartak pointed out that the tracks and roads were already one floor below the buildings, making them more susceptible to submergence during heavy rains. He emphasized that new developments in the area were particularly vulnerable and cited Vasai-Virar as a prime example. Vartak raised serious questions about the environmental impact of cutting mangroves, diverting streams and mismanagement of drainage systems leading to flooding.
The chief spokesperson of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee’s environment cell also reiterated these concerns and stressed the importance of preserving natural waterways for proper drainage of rainwater.
In response to the crisis, local activists and social workers such as Shrikant Naik rallied to the aid of affected residents. Naik observed the devastating effects of floods and stressed on the need to address the issue of garbage and waste piling up on the roads, which worsened the flood situation.
Sun City Road, a major road connecting Vasai to Nalasopara, was one of the worst-affected roads, which was completely submerged due to floods.
Amidst the chaos caused by the massive flood, an enraged Chulnekar expressed strong displeasure by holding the rulers of Vasai responsible for the horrific flood situation.
The rainfall data of 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday highlighted the seriousness of the situation. Vasai recorded an average rainfall of over 200 mm, with the surrounding areas also receiving heavy rains. Mandvi received 175 mm of rain, Virar 191 mm, Pelhar 225 mm, Manikpur 226 mm, Nirmal 121 mm, Agashi 194 mm, Bolinj 191 mm and Kaman 205 mm.
The Vasai-Virar situation is a stark reminder of the importance of sustainable urban planning and environmental protection. Authorities and stakeholders should work together to prevent such disasters in future, implement effective measures to protect lives and properties in this vibrant region.