Websites step in to revive Mumbai

Mumbai, August 6:

With self-help being the best help for flood-hit Mumbai, a profusion of blogs, websites and SMS campaigns has been helping people deal with the disaster as civil society steps in where the government has not. With confusion persisting amongst government bodies like the local Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), new age media is providing emergency numbers and other tips vital for the harassed people to get back to normal life after last week’s floods. From carrying phone numbers of rehabilitation centres and information on the right to get immediate treatment to guidebooks on coping with floods and simply providing a platform to vent frustration, these websites/blogs have virtually all the basic information required for survival — and revival.

A typical message posted on, for instance, reads: “Eureka Forbes has announced in today’s Times of India that pure safe water is available free at Aquaguard Centres. Also free service for your Aquaguard for the next ten days. Their helpline: 39883333.” Says an angry message from a historian, B Arunachalam: “One could have lived with a calamity of tsunami proportions bringing down the country’s business capital to a grinding halt; not sheer ineptitude by authorities who were found to have feet of clay in the hour of crisis. “The authorities cannot keep blaming nature and try and hide during monsoons, wishing away a problem that needs to be faced squarely. This, especially in a city that is built on reclaimed land to the extent of 40 per cent on the island and 20 per cent in the suburbs.” Lists of oxygen suppliers, chemists, ambulance service and calls for blankets, food and clothes etc, warnings for diseases and impending epidemics were some of the other messages put out by private citizens for desperate Mumbaikars on

“Though the print and broadcast media did a good job of covering the entire fiasco, there was little that people could put into practical use at a time like this,” Mumbai-based theatre personality Raell Padamsee said.