Synopsis: Every Year Mumbai witnesses incidents of building collapse during monsoon. However, the steps taken are not adequate.
In Mumbai, recently an unsafe multi-storeyed building has collapsed in a core area of the city. It resulted in the loss of the lives of at least 11 people.
The disaster is a repetition of incidents like that every year. People are inhabiting unsafe and illegal buildings, and civic authorities are failing to act in time, as usual.
- Mumbai needs a time-bound and accountable system of ensuring the safety of its housing stock.
- The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority identified 21 structures in Mumbai as being extremely dangerous in this year’s monsoon. It advised 700 occupants to move to temporary accommodation, while reconstruction takes place.
- However, the people who live there are reluctant as the alternative housing is far away from their education and work locations. This is a challenge that Maharashtra will have to address.
What should be done?
Coastal Maharashtra is vulnerable to extreme monsoon weather events. Such events are increasing in frequency due to the ongoing warming of the Arabian Sea. It should be treated as a crisis that will only get worse by changes to monsoon rainfall intensity over time. Thus following steps are required: –
- Firstly, scientists of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology have suggested that accurate monsoon forecasting would help governments prepare better to save lives and agriculture.
- Secondly, Mumbai needs to accelerate its repair and restoration program for weak buildings and replace those that cannot be recovered.
- Thirdly, the city urgently needs canals for huge volumes, for water to flow out. A plan to create new urban wetlands where it is possible to store the rainfall is required.
- Fourthly, a revival of Mithi river is needed as it could offer some relief. Its planned clean-up was delayed by the COVID-19 crisis. More such water bodies are required, and it will take a mass housing program to make life safer for the thousands in shacks.
- Fifthly, a far-sighted plan to shift people from filthy buildings to modern ones is important on health grounds as well. This process should begin with the most dangerous structures first.
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