Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Recalling October floods in Hyderabad

The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad come under the rain shadow area with an average annual rainfall hovering around 700mm.The cities had experienced not many devastating floods in the past decades. However, in August 2000 rains shattered a hundred of residential areas in Hyderabad. The year 2016 also witnessed the same plight. However, the recent excessive precipitation and flood during October 2020 caused nightmare in the twin cities. These repeated happenings occurring due changing rainfall patterns should have been foreseen by the urban planners. Uncontrolled expansion and construction activity often not conforming to the stipulations has been a vital reason for deteriorating environment and depleting water table. Buildings are razed here and there for unlawful constructions. Yet, it is only the tip of iceberg.

Agrarian background of twin cities

The agrarian background of the twin cities and historical growth of the area point to the fact of past rainwater drainage system prevalent with myriad of thanks harvesting rainfalls was sustaining agriculture. Today the tanks disappeared as they were encroached upon by buildings and roads. The tendency to occupy flood plains for urban development is not unique to the twin cities in India. However, the rivers and flood channels if choked these disasters are bound to recur. The urban planners agree that there was lack of synchronisation of rain water flows.

Cars waiting for repairs

The flash flood in the twin cities during October caused extensive loss of property and also lives. In several areas like L.B. Nagar in Hyderabad government had to advise people not to stir out of their houses during the flood time in view of water overflowing roads dangerously. The Musi River floods are of rare occurrence, but in October this year Chaderghat Bridge drowned cutting off communications in the city. Several motor vehicles had gone under water and hundreds of them are still lying in workshop waiting for repairs.

Following building norms a must

Terrain and slope in the planning of urban agglomerations is a technical issue. What ails the governance of urban areas most is the management of systems. A significant succour would come if after careful planning, meticulous administrative and management measures are undertaken. The foremost is to strictly implement building norms and ensuring that illegal encroachments do not occur randomly or remotely. This has to be done as a special drive in a mission mode.

Treating urban waste

Monitoring and treating urban waste both solid and liquid needs to be tackled on priority basis and adequate infrastructure like good roads without compromise have to be provided. These measures would certainly tackle the problems of flood disaster due to rains and building collapses to a great extent. Quality assurance and corruption free implementation of plans and laws by themselves assure achievement of major percentage of desired objectives in building global cities in India.

Another important concept coming to the fore is need to mainstreaming climate change into development strategies and programmes of urban administration. This sort of ‘climate proofing’ is needed in the context of fast changing rainfall patterns.

Prof. Sivamohan Marepalli
Prof. Sivamohan Marepalli
The writer is a researcher, consultant and teacher. He worked at ASCI and had brief stints at Cornell University, IWMI and other international organizations.


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