Q 17 . Major cities of India are becoming vulnerable to flood conditions. Discuss. UPSC 2016 MAINS GS I

ANSWER

Urban flooding refers to inundation of urban areas due to accumulation of water owing to heavy rainfall and absence of proper drainage . In the last few year’s Srinagar and Chennai floods along with deluge in Gurgaon, Delhi and Mumbai during monsoons are perfect examples.

Though heavy rainfall is one of the major culprits urban flooding is more anthropogenic in nature than natural. Wetlands and lakes, which are regulator of water flow, are reducing in size because of massive urbanization. People encroach upon natural drainage channels and make illegal buildings. Also there is lack of open area that can be used for water storage.

Besides real estate mafia and their political nexus promote unplanned urbanisation which exacerbates the problem of urban flooding. Also in large cities such as Delhi the responsibility for proper drainage of city is divided among various municipal corporations. However it has been seen that there is lack of coordination among them.

Furthermore, in many cities drainage system is obsolete which is unable to handle excess water during floods. Also the problem of drainage siltation is rampant. Besides the flood relief measures are also not up to the mark.

Moreover natural causes are also adding to the problem. Rainfall pattern has been changing because of climate change. With heavy rainfall and flash floods, people living in urban areas specially low lying are caught unaware.

Although floods in urban areas can not be prevented absolutely , their effects can be surely mitigated. Some of the steps which can be helpful are such as upgrading the drainage system,building proper dams to check urban flooding, constructing  water harvesting systems in buildings,preparing evacuation plans in case of flood for each city,expansion of urban areas in a planned and regulated way,setting of regulatory authority for real estate and better mechanism for rainfall prediction.

Also sensitizing people about the risk to urban flooding in their area and transferring  poor people from low lying areas to some liveable place can be useful.