Mumbai: Flooding draws demands to clamp down on India’s sprawling urban spaces

As India’s most populated city begins to recover from the worst floods they have had in more than ten years, experts have stated that India needs to lay down the law on its rapid urbanisation in order to safeguard its crammed metropolises from more frequent, and fatal, floods.

They are called for radically improved urban planning in order to ensure that land is used safely as developers continue to rush developments to cater to India’s rural poor moving to the cities in growing numbers. If they do not, more people may lose their lives in the floods triggered by severe monsoon rains that have already killed more than a dozen in the city, wrecking homes, bringing turmoil, and even demolishing buildings.

“The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is rising, yet we plan infrastructure only after building over everything,” Debi Goenka, an environmentalist, said to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

And with urbanisation slated to continue growing rapidly and extreme weather events including variable rainfall predicted, analysts have encouraged India to enforce strict regulations on the use of urban land, especially as half of India’s population will reside in urban areas by 2050.

“Nearly all our cities are at risk of floods because of unchecked urbanisation and depletion of water bodies,” Sushmita Sengupta said that the Centre for Science and Environment, a think tank based in New Delhi, India. “The wetlands, which are meant to be sponges for water, are built over, and stormwater drains are clogged with garbage, so there is no system for rainwater runoff. Where will the water go?”

But while city officials are saying that no amount of planning could have prepared Mumbai for the heavy downpours and resulting floods, analysts have stated that the city’s urban planning is lacking as commercial interests take priority over environmental responsibilities.


Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation