On the night of 3rd August 2020, heavy rains and floods have rained upon various parts of India. Several areas in Mumbai- the Financial Capital of India- have been flooded after extremely heavy rain in through the night and the morning of 4th August,2020.
Local trains, lifeline for Mumbai’s 20 million residents, have been stopped and all offices in the city, except emergency services will stay closed today. The financial capital and a few neighbouring district are on red alert for “extremely heavy rainfall” today and tomorrow. Apart from Mumbai, the alert has been issued for Thane, Pune, Raigad and Ratnagiri districts of Maharashtra and the neighbouring states as well.
Mumbai’s streets regularly flood during the monsoon, which runs from June until September or October, and which provides India with most of its annual rainfall as well as renders many homeless and businesses drain into the trenches. Much of the city’s mangrove cover, which is extremely effective in helping to drain rain water, has been destroyed over the past decade to make way for high-rises. Plastic bags and other non-degradable wastes chock up the drainage systems forcing the water to log the streets and Mumbaikar’s homes.
With Covid-19 cases rising rapidly in Mumbai, thousands of small and big businesses located in the area are struggling to restart economic activities. However, with relaxations of Lockdown the local vendors and businessmen were given a ray of hope which was soon shadowed by the dark rain clouds and the red alert issued by the weather forecast department.
It must be noted that since the past three months, economic activities came to a grinding halt and have not reopened. Since Mumbai is one of the most congested regions, officials were worried about the rise in coronavirus cases in the City. However, the officials and the citizens have given their full support by maintaining social distancing and staying indoors, since the first few cases were reported in the month of March 2020.
First Corona, now Heavy rains bring India’s financial capital Mumbai to a virtual standstill.
From small shopkeepers to company productivity and the overall investment climate, the flooding has a huge economic impact on Mumbai and on India’s wider economy, with the city being a crucial contributor to India’s overall tax revenues and GDP.
“The floods severely expose Mumbai’s failings as India’s commercial capital, and it is the commercial capital that showcases the economic strength of a country,” says Aaron Solomon, the managing partner at Solomon and Co, a corporate and financial law firm headquartered in Mumbai in an online interview.
“The floods demonstrate the abject lack of infrastructure development in the city. Mumbai’s failings not only affect residents of Mumbai, but the economic growth of India as a whole.”
India on average suffers an economic loss of US$7 billion each year because of floods, according to the United Nations.
On Monday, authorities advised the city’s residents not to venture out, meaning that productivity will be impacted, with many meetings, events, and conferences cancelled, ultimately hitting revenues for a number of companies. But these corporates have now adapted to the virtual work from home and zoom meetings, credits to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most affected people are the labourers, local vendors and small scale businessmen i.e. the heart of trade and financial body of any nation.
Trading on the stock exchanges in Mumbai are also hit by the disruption, with volumes remaining subdued as business activity in the city which was already suffering the prison of lockdown now slows down due to heavy down pour.
Severe Weather Threatens Businesses, It’s Time to Measure and Disclose the Risks.
Even if a business knows how normal weather affects its earnings, unexpected abnormal weather events present their own risks. Research shows that abnormal weather disrupts the operating and financial performance of 70% of businesses worldwide.
When weather conditions are on average adverse over days, weeks, or entire seasons, shortfalls in sales cause reduced cash flows and can lead to financial distress and business failure.
Small businesses are even more vulnerable. Two-thirds of small business managers declare to have been negatively affected by weather over the last three years.
One reason has been a lack of access to the sort of reliable historical weather data needed to model individual business’ exposure to weather risk. This is no longer the case. Big data and cloud computing have made it possible to store and manage the enormous amounts of weather data required to evaluate weather risks anywhere in the world, price and deliver tailor-made hedging products through internet platforms in a timeframe acceptable to customers and cover sellers.
Disclosing climate change risks is not just about reporting on our energy usage and carbon emissions. Climate change is making severe weather more common, and reporting to investors about how climate affects the business will require companies to estimate and report on the risks they face from the weather.
Heavy Mumbai rains may hike vegetable prices:
Amid all the panic and chaos, the vegetable vendors and grocery shops have been busy with people buying in bulk due to the uncertainty of the weather. A vegetable vendor in Mumbai’s Kandivali area said in a TV interview, “People are buying Onions and Potato in bulk due to rains. At this rate if people keep buying I am worried that vegetable price might hike in the coming days.”
A grocery shop owner from Andheri’s said, “People are stocking up items because news channels are reporting about rains. We are getting calls for home delivery however in these rains we cannot risk our own lives as well. As of now we are helping the senior citizens of our locality.”
Fishing community seek help from government following incessant rainfall.
Fishermen from the Koli fishing community in Mumbai request help from the local administration on Sunday after heavy rains lashed the city for three consecutive days. Jayesh Bhoir, a fisherman who lives in the Colaba Koliwada, said that this monsoon rain has put additional pressure on his financial condition which was already hit by Corona Virus, as reported by local news channel.
The local vendors have not been operating for the last two months because of the COVID-19 guidelines and their business has been terribly affected. That along with the heavy rains has made it really difficult. The government should at least take care of the local and traditional community during natural calamities like these.
The Municipal Corporation has not cleaned the gutters and it usually happens before the monsoon season. These locals live in low lying area and their houses are endangered by heavy flooding situations.
On Twitter- The Mumbai Police on Sunday also cautioned the local residents against venturing in the waters or around the sea. They also tweeted that due to the rain-induced waterlogging, many roads have been closed.
Rains impact festival season business, demand increases but supplies are damaged.
Indian festivals are on a rise from the month of July and onwards. The local vendors benefit from these festivals by carrying out trade in the festivity items and goods.
As the lightning and thunder came out of the clouds, so did the despair of people of the city. Many businesses will have to leave behind losses caused by the lashing rains and eye profits that will flow in due to up-coming Ganesha festival and similar other festivities.
“We try to save our stock from the floods every year, but to no avail,” said a Dadar-based vendor who sells betel leaves and flowers in the Dadar flower market. Many vendors in the Dadar market have faced losses due to the rains. “This is the time of year when we witness good business which is why we come back here as usual,” a woman vendor added. She further added that the supply chain for fresh stock should not be affected or their family sleeps hungry.
A vendor, based in Masjid Bhandar, said, “It is not just about loss to our stock but is also about fall in demand when the festive season is on due to floods” This cloth seller states he saw less than 50 % footfall in Masjid Bhandar amid the Pandemic and rains. “We hope business picks up.” He added that vendors in Curry road, Wadala and Sion have suffered huge stock losses with this one-day rain which might stay here for few more days.
It is a normal scene to see shop keepers throw their ruined stock due to flooding in low-lying area. An employee of a Dadar-based shoe shop while throwing the spoiled shoes said, “Our bosses and we could not do much as water started to reach our waist and damaged the shoes in the shop. We tried to save as much as we could but we could not do much,” a staffer of the shoe shop said.
He said luckily the establishment has an insurance and that will help them to get some money back. However, it is to be noted that, not all small establishments have insurance, added that even if they have insurance it is difficult for them to get the claim from insurance companies.
Small businesses are even more vulnerable. Two-thirds of small business managers declare to have been negatively affected by Rains over the last three years.
Since Sunday night, there has been continuous heavy rainfall reported all along the west coast of Maharashtra, Goa and Kerala, with very heavy rain in Mumbai, Ratnagiri and Mahabaleshwar. On Tuesday, a low pressure system formed in the Bay of Bengal that has once pushed the monsoon into its active phase, bringing heavy spells for the west coast.
This comes at a time when India – and especially the state of Maharashtra where Mumbai is located – is actively trying to encourage small businesses, local vendors, start-ups and foreign direct investment into the country to boost economic growth and create more jobs for the population.
Mumbai is India’s richest city with total wealth of $82bn, according to the New World Wealth report, questions have been raised about why the city was unsuitably prepared to cope with the rains. Ineffective drainage systems and litter clogging up drains are among the factors that have been blamed for the devastating impact of the floods followed by the destruction of mangroves for building concrete civilisations.
All the affected districts have been put on ‘red’ alert, suggesting occurrence of extremely heavy rainfall and perilous floods.