Monsoon Floods Bring India’s Capitol to a Halt

By Sadie Bass

Sep 10, 2009 9:45am

ABC's Karen Russo reports from New Delhi, India: The heavy monsoon rains began before sunrise and by rush hour the city’s streets were flooded. A flurry of phone calls and text messages quickly warned friends and loved ones to stay inside their homes. “There is jam everywhere,” wrote a colleague about the hours-long traffic jams that blocked movement throughout the nation’s capitol. As the morning progressed the rains became more than just an inconvenience when five girls were killed at a state-run school in Yumuna, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and home to “fourth class” citizens, the hut-dwelling day laborers. The deaths occurred when students collided on a narrow staircase in the waterlogged school, according to local reports. Authorities are investigating the cause. Heavy rainy days during monsoon here feel like “snow days” in New England when roads, businesses and schools shut down during blizzards. Few people venture outside, knowing a simple trip to the market could take hours or turn dangerous when the lids of drainage holes loosen under water pressure and people walking past fall inside. “The problem is that the local government’s has not planned for population growth, the growth of the city and maintenance is a major issue in India,” said Mukesh Mathur, a professor at the National Institute of Urban Affairs. “The money is there to maintain and create the infrastructure, but there [needs to be] technical know-how and the motivation and accountability and transparency to address the problems.” It’s been a strange year for India’s monsoon. The lack of early rain devastated farmers’ growth opportunities while this current end-of-season barrage is catching people off-guard as they assumed the heaviest rains were complete for the season.

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