Friday, July 31, 2009

High Tide in Mumbai

Lately the Arabian Sea surrounding the Mumbai coast has been in the news. One was the coming up Bandra-Worli Sea link and other the high tidal waves hitting the Mumbai shore. The announcement by Mumbai Municipal of the high tide hitting Mumbai shore was a much talked about event in the press and television. Mumbaiker were warned of high tide of the century with waves scaling height of 5.05 metre on 24 June 2009. If the city received heavy rains on that day coinciding with the high tide there would be unprecedented floods in Mumbai. The city was in tenterhook bringing back memory of 2005 flood during monsoon in Mumbai. On that day Government had shut down Schools and colleges and people were warned not to venture out on the streets unless it was necessary. A sort of fear psychosis held the city on the edge.
I set out in the morning of 24th June armed with my camera and was greeted with unexpected sunlight. There was no sign of the rains or impending doom, as predicted much to the relief of Municipal officials and Mumbaiker. I had decided to visit near to the sea side either in Worli or Gateway of India where I had taken previous photos of tide waves hitting against the walls and spraying water in the air. Such scenes make good photos. Half way on my journey I changed my mind and decided to visit fishermen village in Worli to find out how they cope up with the high tide and if they suffered any destruction of their huts lining along the coastal strip. By the time I reached the village there was still an hour left for the tide to peak that was at 2 at noon. I thought of using this time to visit Worli Fort which is a good 20 minutes walk from the Worli Bus depot. The Fort is situated at an elevated area where in I could enjoy a vantage point to view the high tide. Worli fort was built by the British around 1675 to keep vigil against enemy’s ship and pirates. Sadly now the fort is unkempt and in utter shambles. Illegal huts have mushroomed around it.
Once up the fort I could see the Arabian Sea in its full fury and ire. The Sea was choppy and turbulent. The tide was slowly working its way up and crashing with all its might against the pillars of the magnificent Bandra-Worli sea link. Some of fishermen assembled to witness the high tide commented that they had never seen the Sea so angry rolling over such huge tides. They heaved relief that it wasn’t raining or else the tide would be much worse. Then I visited some of the fishermen’s huts located on around the sea edge. Water had gushed inside and destroyed their fragile homes. People ventured out of their homes watching with concern the havoc created by the tidal waves. Some of the bylanes of the villages was submerged with Sea water. Municipal official were present at the scene making announcement on loudspeaker to people staying near the sea to evacuate. What is intriguing that it was the turn of Sea during this high tide to throw back tonnes of debris consisting of plastic bags, coconuts shells and marigold garland which people normally dispose off in the sea nonchalantly.
On my way I stopped by near to Shivaji Park beach. I was told that Sea water had entered the land over there. As a precaution all vehicular traffic leading to it was stopped so I had to walk it down. On reaching the scene I saw a huge crowd mainly compromising college students gathered to see the huge tidal waves overflowing over the land.
I had never seen anything like this before and it made me think with concern the danger of climate change due to which the Sea level is rising with each passing year. This was just an warning for the future that the sea water one day would not hesitate to enter mainland of Mumbai.

Link to images of high tide in Mumbai

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