After a first-hand experience of Mumbai's infamous traffic during the monsoon, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the city urgently needed modern infrastructure like an expanded metro rail network that has faced criticism for a planned deforestation drive.
Calling the problems caused by a combination of heavy rain and high tide "unmanageable", the minister who reached a function late said this is what "Mumbai is all about".
Without mentioning the Maharashtra government's controversial decision to cut some 2,700 trees in Aarey Colony for Mumbai Metro that has faced opposition from residents, he said modern infrastructure was the need of the hour.
The financial capital of India has been brought to a halt many times during this year's monsoon, mainly because of disruptions to the suburban train network which serves 75 lakh people.
Speaking at an event organised by the Indo American Chamber of Commerce, where he arrived late, Mr Goyal said it took him two hours to cover a distance of 25 km from the airport because of the overnight rain.
"I can imagine how people are inconvenienced today. That is what Mumbai is all about. When you have high tide and such heavy rain (which worsens waterlogging), nobody can really handle the situation anywhere in the world," he said.
"These are challenges of climate change where the whole world will have to come together and work to see how we can face this kind of calamities which were not there many years ago," he added.
Stating that even developed economies have been forced to carry out evacuations during climate emergencies, Mr Goyal claimed that "India has been more resilient and been able to handle these issues much better".
Modern infrastructure will help tackle these challenges better in future, he said.
"I do hope that a few people do not hold this infrastructure development to ransom and we encourage, and support, and speed up this infra development," he said, in apparent reference to the opposition to the plan to chop down trees for a carshed for Mumbai Metro.
The people who understand the importance of infrastructure should speak about how it will change the face of the city, the Railway Minister said.
Failure to build modern infrastructure will lead to more use of private transport, more traffic problems and increase in pollution, leading to health issues, Mr Goyal warned.
(With inputs from PTI)