At least 80 people have lost their lives in floods in Telangana, Maharashtra, and Karnataka in the past 72 hours.
The maximum casualties(deaths) were caused by overflowing nullahs, incidents of wall or building collapse, and electrocution in Hyderabad and Pune.
- This grim(serious) story has been repeating itself with worrying frequency in urban India for at least 10 years.
- Pune is facing the fury(storm) of torrential rains for the second consecutive year.
- Chennai faced a crippling flood five years ago, Guwahati gets submerged almost every year.
- Patna, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai have their monsoon travails and Hyderabad received its heaviest September rainfall in more than 100 years last year.
- On Wednesday, as Telangana’s capital recorded its highest 24-hour rainfall for October in more than a century, its nearly 100-year-old drainage system was caught unprepared.
- As in most flooding incidents in the country, the only semblance(similarity) of resilience(flexibility) shown by Hyderabad’s authorities was in relief and rescue.
- But it’s time that Indian cities plan for the vagaries(oddity) of weather, develop systems that help them deal with hazards such as floods or excessive heat.
- As Indian cities have expanded, they have wrested areas that were once major drainage points.
- At the same time, stormwater drains in most Indian cities remain locked in decades-old networks and are most often clogged.
- This means excessive rainfall gets trapped within city boundaries. Climate vagaries of the last two decades have exacerbated(worsened) the problem.
- This year, Mumbai received 80 percent of its August rainfall in the first five days of the month, parts of the city that have rarely been flooded were underwater.
- More than one IPCC report has pointed to the climate vulnerability of coastal areas such as Mumbai and Chennai.
- It’s unfortunate that recent technology-enabled initiatives — the Smart Cities Project, for example — have very little by way of bolstering climate adaptability.
- In fact, according to a report by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and the NGO SEEDS, more than 55% of India’s smart cities are prone to floods.
- According to estimates, more people will live in urban centers in India compared to the rural ones by 2050.
- It’s imperative that while planning for houses, roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure, policymakers respect an area’s hydrology.
- The solutions could vary according to local conditions and climate adaptability could be an adroit(skilful) mix of natural and technological means — sensors in drains that warn of floods tried in Buenos Aires and some US cities for example.
- The floods in Hyderabad and Pune are a warning that there is no time to waste.
- Untimely, excessive rainfall, as in Hyderabad and Pune, is here to stay. It’s time to plan for vagaries of weather, build resilience.