Disaster Events | VOL. 15, ISSUE 89, March-April 2015

Urban Flooding in India

Urban flooding is a rising phenomenon in recent times. Whether coastal or inland, flooding in an urban centre can cause grave damage owing to the high population density involved. Moreover, the capacity of Indian cities to withstand heavy rains has also weakened owing to land use changes and interference with natural watersheds. Thus, notwithstanding the improved accuracy of forecasts and communications, as also the administrative efficiency in tackling floods, cities have ended up becoming more vulnerable to floods. The unprecedented floods that left Mumbai, Hyderabad, Surat and Bangalore reeling in recent times only prove this true. Rainfall variations and extreme event episodes have only succeeded in making things worse. The authorities have prioritised cities for economic growth and employment generation, but without any focus on protection of water bodies and water channels. Reclaiming large tracts of land for building has left many cities bereft of wetlands and water bodies that can absorb urban outflows during the monsoon. Consequently, recurring urban floods are an annual occurrence today. In an urban setting, flooding results in large scale disruption of power, transport, water supply, sanitation and other basic utilities. This in turn can pose additional problems, resulting in a crisis that is unmanageable owing to its sheer volume and intensity. With the capacity of the administration stretched to its limits, the affected people end up the worst sufferers,...

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