Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has made a worrisome prediction for the city, saying that by 2050, a major portion of south Mumbai, including the business district of Nariman Point and state secretariat Mantralaya, will be submerged as the sea level rises.
Speaking at the launch of Mumbai Climate Action Plan and its website at the hands of Maharashtra Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray on Friday, Chahal said about 70% of the city’s A, B, C, and D wards in south Mumbai would be submerged due to climate change.
Chahal said that nature had been giving warnings, but if people did not “wake up”, the situation would turn “dangerous”.
“We are getting warnings from nature and if we do not wake up, it will be a dangerous situation for the next 25 years. And it will not only be the next generation but the current generation will also suffer,” Chahal warned.
He said that Mumbai was the first city in South Asia that was preparing its climate action plan and acting on it.
“Earlier, we used to hear about climate change events like melting glaciers, but not directly affecting us. But now it has come to our doorstep,” Chahal said.
The Mumbai municipal commissioner said that last year for the first time in 129 years, a cyclone (Nisarga) hit Mumbai and thereafter in the last 15 months, there had been three cyclones. Thereafter, on 5 August 2020, about 5 to 5.5 feet of water had accumulated at Nariman point.
“There was no cyclone warning that day, but considering the parameters, it was a cyclone,” Chahal said.
Highlighting that the city has witnessed some extreme weather conditions recently, he said that the city faced a Tauktae cyclone in Mumbai and witnessed 214 mm rain on 17 May although the monsoon arrives here on 6 or 7 June.
Before 9 June, Mumbai recorded 84% of the June rainfall and in July, 70% of the month’s average rainfall was received in just four days — from July 17 to 20, he said.
Under the Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP), the data assessment has identified areas and communities most vulnerable given increasing climate uncertainty, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a release.
Data from across BMC’s 37 automatic weather stations (AWS) over the past 10 years suggests that on average, Mumbai has seen six heavy, five very heavy, and four extremely heavy rainfall days per year. And for all the rainfall that occurs during the monsoon season in Mumbai, each year, approximately 10% falls under the heavy category, 9% very heavy, and 6% extremely heavy.
According to the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) classification, daily rainfall from 64.5 mm to 115.5 mm is considered ‘heavy’, 115.6 mm to 204.4mm ‘very heavy’ and more than 204.5mm is ‘extreme’.
“The four-year period between 2017 and 2020 has seen a steady increase in the extremely heavy rainfall events. This indicates that the frequency of such extreme weather events is increasing for the city of Mumbai especially over the past four years,” said Lubaina Rangwala, Associate Director, WRI India Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.