On a day when Mumbai was battling torrential rain, the highest in four decades, 50-year-old Kanta Murti Kalan stood for hours near an open manhole on a waterlogged road in Matunga. She did not move for seven hours, alerting people and cars to a manhole that could easily be missed in the flooding. Kanta Murti, a flower seller, lost her house and savings in the deluge on August 4.
A video of Kanta Murti standing near the manhole, soaking in rain, went viral. A mother of eight, Kanta Murti is the only earning member of her family because her husband is paralysed. Five of her children are married and she earns money to send three more to school by selling flowers on the roadside. "I support my three children's education by selling flowers and I am the only earning member in the family as my husband is paralysed after meeting with a railway accident," she told news agency ANI.
Mumbai: Kanta Murti, who was seen in viral video (of August 4) guarding an open manhole in Matunga to avert accidents, says she stood there for 7 hours.— ANI (@ANI) August 10, 2020
Says, "I uncovered the manhole to drain water & stood there to warn vehicles. BMC officials came later & scolded me for it." pic.twitter.com/dOTKG5hZdW
When the visuals of her extraordinary act emerged, she was scolded by civic authorities for putting her life in danger. "I uncovered the manhole and drained the water. Then I stood there to warn vehicles. BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) officials later came and scolded me," she said.
As people came asking after her and praised her, she brushed it aside saying she did what she had to do in such a situation. "There would have been accidents if I hadn't," she said.
On August 4, extremely heavy overnight rain in coastal Maharashtra including Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and other places in Western Maharashtra like Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli brought life to a standstill. There were extensive flooding and landslides.