Source: The Hindu
Context: Recent Hyderabad Flood has resulted in the death of over 20 people and a property loss estimated more than ₹6,000 crores.
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Devastating Floods in the past:
- In India: Chennai (December 2015), Kochi (August 2018), Mumbai July 2005
- Around the world: Sydney (December 2018), New York (October 2019), Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (October 2005)
What are the reasons for flood disaster in India?
- Climate change: According to climate experts extreme weather events have become the norm. For example, recently floods in Hyderabad is due to record precipitation for most rain in a century. It is not possible for any city or region to absorb this order of precipitation in such a short period.
- Inadequate Mitigation measure: Indian cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, lacks such contingency plans to deal with sudden bursts of rain while cities in the developed world, such as New York, Paris and Copenhagen have contingency plans such as constructing sponges or sinks.
- Policy failure: While the Smart City project and the National Infrastructure Pipeline focus on making roads, affordable houses and revamping drainage systems for cities they fail to recognise these as inter-connected objectives.
- Encroachment of Wetlands: Floods in Mumbai and Chennai were a result of Construction along river beds, wetlands and drainage pathways. In case of Hyderabad, Musi riverbed was occupied by city bus station whereas in Bengaluru case hundreds of lake beds were converted into high rises. All of these activities impact the ability of natural wetlands to absorb water.
- Inefficient River flow: Along with this, the drains and rivers are not cleaned or adequately de-silted before the monsoon.
- inefficient urban planning: Most of the city’s urban planning policy, do not cater to the need for underground drainage. For example, Hyderabad’s Hi-Tec city
How India should adapt to it?
- Need to Prioritise waste recycling.
- Municipal and urban infrastructure bodies should cooperate with each other rather than working as two separate entities.
- Above all, the nexus between the politicians, bureaucracy and real estate interests, which leads to violation of zoning laws, needs to be checked.
- Need to hold local bodies accountable for losses arising out of inappropriate location of properties. This can be done by Re-examining the Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Act.
- Greater civic participation as envisaged under the 74th Constitutional Amendment, is a must to improve urban governance
India’s cities must have a contingency plan that goes beyond using weather warning technologies to reviewing urban planning and administration.