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Urban Flooding
Aug 21, 2017

[GS Paper III: (Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, EIA, Disaster and Disaster Management)]

On August 15, a thunderstorm accompanied by heavy rainfall struck the southern and eastern parts of Bengaluru. This sudden downpour was attributed to the combined impact of upper air cyclonic circulation systems prevailing over the city. The meteorological observatory recorded rainfall of 128.7 mm which was the most in a single day in August in the last 127 years.

Reasons 

  • Extreme weather event: The normal rainfall expected in Bengaluru on August 15 any year is only 5 mm but it received 128.7 mm rainfall this year. The city usually gets a total of 130 mm- 140 mm of rain in the entire month of August.
  • Unplanned urbanization: Management of Urban Flooding report, published by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2010, says that concretisation is a major problem in many cities and towns and Bengaluru is no exception. Excessive construction leads to blocking of natural drainage systems and poor recharge of groundwater aquifers.  
  • Encroachment in natural drainage system: In the face of unchecked urbanisation, the natural drainage system in a city like Bengaluru has been virtually destroyed by encroachments. Even small amounts of rain can now inundate low-lying areas. 
  • Deforestation: Many cities have witnessed massive amount of deforestation in the name of development. For instance in Bengaluru the vegetation has decreased by almost 88% and water by 85% between 2000 and 2014.
  • Lack of administrative framework: The civic authorities are also at times complicit as they fail to prevent encroachments of stormwater drains and lakes. 

Way forward

  • Urban flooding is a manmade disaster that could be avoided by building the cities in a sustainable manner that makes use of pollution control measures such as urban reforestation, revitalization of natural drainage systems.
  • A concerted effort is required by all stakeholders to save the natural water bodies in the cities as they provide crucial services such as groundwater recharge and flood management. 


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