When BMC Fails, the Mumbaikar Rises: 50-Yr-Old Stands for 7 Hrs in Rain to Warn about Manhole


When BMC Fails, the Mumbaikar Rises: 50-Yr-Old Stands for 7 Hrs in Rain to Warn about Manhole

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Last week, Mumbai witnessed the heaviest rains the city has seen in over a decade. As record-breaking amounts of rainfall battered the city, people stepped up to look out for one another where infrastructure failed. The “Spirit of Mumbai” is often brought up whenever the city faces a negative situation, and while it might be commonly talked about, witnessing it in action is truly special. One such woman embodied this spirit during last week’s floods, as she stood in the pouring rain for hours at a stretch warning pedestrians and vehicles away from an open manhole in the middle of the street.

Kanta Maruti Kalan is a pavement-dweller who lives with her two school-going daughters on the footpath along Tulsi Pipe Road in Matunga West. The area, next to train tracks, is prone to flooding, and true to form, became waterlogged last week. When civic authorities did not arrive to address the problem, Kalan took matters into her own hands by opening the manhole to let the floodwaters drain away. However, aware of the dangers the open manhole posed to the lives of passersby, she then remained at the spot for seven hours in the pouring rain, warning people away from the hazardous opening.

Kalan’s actions won her viral fame on the internet, after a video shot by a resident of Tulsi Pipe Road hit the internet, with commenters lauding her selflessness. Unfortunately, even as Kalan was performing her good deed, the floodwaters washed away her tent from the footpath as well as the ₹10,000 she had saved up for her daughters’ education. Mumbai Mirror featured Kalan on their front page, and have also included bank details for those readers who wish to contribute aid to this city hero in their report.

The “Spirit of Mumbai” is an abstract concept, but if it had a face, it would look a lot like Kanta Maruti Kallan’s.