[Answered] Discuss the issue and various causes of urban floods in India. Give some measures to prevent urban flooding in India.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Give a brief introduction.
Body. Causes of urban flooding in India.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Urban Flooding is accumulation of water in an area either by direct rainfall or through spill of huge amount of water from water bodies beyond normal limits. It lead to temporary relocation of people, damage to civic amenities, deterioration of water quality and risk of epidemics. Over the past several years there is increasing trend of urban flood disasters in India whereby major cities in India have been severely affected.


Natural causes:

  1. Meteorological phenomenon– Natural phenomenon like storms, Cyclonelike Vardah, Phailin making landfalls in coastal areas induce heavy rainfall leading to floods.
  2. Heavy rainfall during monsoons- Erratic monsoon, monsoon bursts lead to tremendous amount of rain in short period leading to the situation of floods. Further cemented paves and roads cause choking of drainage with water accumulating above it. Lack of exposed soil create a situation of water nit getting seeped into the ground and accumulating.
  3. Change in course of river– Rivers changing it’s normal course also lead to floods many times. This cause heavy human loss due to unpreparedness and lack of any planning as it is unexpected. Eg:Kosi in Bihar.

Anthropogenic causes:

  1. Deforestation and climate change- Global climate change is resulting in changed weather patterns and increased episodesof high intensity rainfall events occurring in shorter periods of time. Then the threat of sea-level rise is also looming large, threatening all the coastal cities. Cutting of trees for personal, commercial and other purposes, especially to expand cities, not only put pressure on environment but also lead to inability of city to prevent flooding. It lead to soil erosion and more frequently floods.
  2. Encroachment of water bodies– Urban areas are getting congested. Increasing Migration to the cities and reduced availability of land lead to more encroachment of water bodies and reduced economical services from water bodies putting stress on urban resources. Charkop Lake in Maharashtra is a well known example of encroachment.
  3. Improper planning- Drainage congestion caused by badly planned construction of bridges , roads , railway tracts, hampers the flow of water and the result is flood. Further no plan of how to tackle flooding situation cause trouble. Though cyclones and floods are routinely visiting India, disaster risk reduction concerns have not been integrated into the plan effectively.
  4. Increasing Urban population and congestion– Increase in the urban population without corresponding expansion of civic facilities such as lack of adequate infrastructure for the disposal of waste results in waste clogging the natural channels and storm water drains. Thus lead to flooding. Also, Urban heat island effect has resulted in an increase in rainfall over urban areas.
  5. Lack of coordination-Among centre and state, among state and civic bodies, and various departments at local level lead to poor planning and implementation of any national or state guidelines to control flood. Inability to coordinate lead to administrative inefficiency to deal with the urban flood situation.
  6. Haphazard development plan- Such disasters of urban flooding are bound to come owing to the kind of haphazard development projects being carried out by builders in these cities. Illegal mining for building material such as sand and quartzite both on the catchment and on the bed of the lake have extremely damaging impact on the water body. For example, the Jaisamand Lake in Jodhpur, once the only source of drinking water for the city, has been suffering from illegal mining.
  7. Unregulated tourism- Excessive and unregulated tourism lead to stress on water bodies, thorough increase demand, choking of drainage through waste, plastic etc. Ashtamudi Lake in Kerala’s Kollam city has become polluted because of spillage of oil from motor boats. Using water bodies to attract tourists has become a threat to several urban lakes in India. Further no regulation on tourists like closing water bodies during stressful season, banning eatables and plastic near water bodies further aggravate the issue.
  8. Unplanned release of water from dams- Unplanned release of water from dams without Pre-warning and caution lead to floods many time. E.g Unplanned release of water from Nepal had caused floods in Northern Bihar.

Way forward:

  1. Detailed survey of the wetlands should be done and then every water body and its catchment should be brought under legal protection.
  2. Inclusion of water bodies and their catchment in the city development rules will lead to a better planned development of the city.
  3. Comprehensive urban planningwith proper study of topography, drainage, rainfall, soil lithology with improved flood water disposal system.
  4. Ensuring the information must be available and easily accessibleto citizens.
  5. Frequent awareness and targeted orientation programmes in a manner and language which is understandable to most vulnerable population of the city.
  6. Help of dedicated NGOs/experts to build the capacity of residents to tackle the situation.
  7. Several decades old drainage system in India should be improved as they are unfit to meet the demands of the present population. Urban government should use technology like satellite imagery data through Bhuvan and National Urban Information System (NUIS) to map natural drains.
  8. Water should be taken as a factor while constructing and making architectures of buildings (water-centric approach).

Though climate change and other effects on environment may be the reason for these floods, they are also aggravated and occur frequently in big cities because of anthropogenic activities. There is a need to integrate all the development activities and urban governance. Various organizations and NGOs need to be coordinate with each other and work together.

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