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Manmade Urban Flooding: Poor Drainage, Plastic Clogging Contribute to floods, Say Experts

Steps such as rainwater harvesting, ban on use of plastic bags and better use of weather forecasts will go a long way in helping tackle flooding in cities after rains

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Urban flooding
Heavy monsoon in Mumbai in August 2005. Wikimedis
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New Delhi, Sep 11, 2017: Urban floods are entirely manmade with poorly maintained drains, plastic bags, shrinking open spaces and climate change contributing to accumulation of water on roads after a heavy downpour, experts say.

They said that steps such as rainwater harvesting, ban on use of plastic bags and better use of weather forecasts will go a long way in helping tackle flooding in cities after rains.

Heavy downpours have been disrupting normal life in almost all metro cities in India, with Mumbai bearing the brunt last month which led to death of at least six persons.

Experts said a range of factors including rapid migration to urban areas and “lackadaisical attitude” of civic authorities were among the factors that contribute to cities coming to a standstill after heavy rains.

They said citizens also have to behave responsibly and ensure that plastic bags or used food plates are not thrown in the open or in the neighbourhood drains.

V.K. Sharma, Senior Professor of Disaster Management at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), said the cities need a proper system of garbage collection and sewage disposal and regular cleaning of drains.

“It is true that poor drainage and sewage system is the real cause of urban flooding. There is also migration to cities which often leads to land encroachment and exerts pressure on the existing civic infrastructure,” Sharma told IANS.

Sharma said the urban planning has to have a long-term perspective and infrastructure should keep pace with growth of population. He said rain water harvesting should be made mandatory.

“There is also the need of fixing accountability of government officials and municipal authorities if drains are not properly cleaned. Strict penalties should be imposed on people throwing garbage in the open,” he said.

He said steps have been taken at some places to ban use of plastic bag but it should be enforced strictly.

“There is need to make people aware. This will also meet the larger goal of cleanliness,” he said.

Sharma said that prediction of the meteorological department are fairly accurate and authorities can issue timely alerts to people in case there is prediction of very heavy rainfall.

“This will also help prevent loss of life,” he said.

Santosh Kumar, a professor at the National Institute of Disaster Management with expertise in disaster risk reduction and policy planning, said climate change was also a factor in cities getting excessive rainfall.

“Urban flooding occurs when water flows into an urban region faster than it can be absorbed into the soil. Earlier, a city received such amount of rainfall in two to three weeks,” Kumar said, referring to Mumbai getting 350 mm rainfall on August 29-30.

He said the cities do not have spaces to absorb the excess water or to store it.

“Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and population growth have also contributed to drainage systems getting congested. These drains are not able to take the pressure of huge water accumulated due to heavy rain, leading to waterlogging,” Kumar told IANS.

He said steps should be taken to improve garbage disposal and ensure that plastics do not find their way to drains.

“Urban ecosystems comprising marshlands, wetlands, lakes and rivers have steadily deteriorated,” Kumar added.

Vinod Kumar Jain, director of NGO Tapas which works in revival of water bodies in Delhi, said “water harvesting can play a significant role in reducing the chances of flooding in urban areas.”

Rainwater harvesting refers to trapping and storing rainwater so that it can be used at a later time when the need arises.

Heavy rainfall in Delhi last month had flooded roads and caused huge traffic snarls. On August 19, many parts of Chandigarh were flooded due to heavy rains. Chennai had witnessed severe flooding in 2015 while floods in Mumbai in 2005 had killed over 500 people. (IANS)

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Climate Change Not A Hoax: Trump

President Trump signed a declaration Sunday saying the federal government will, for now, pay for 100 percent of the cleanup in Florida

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Climate Change
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump told CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again…I’m not denying climate change, but it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over millions of years.”

Trump has over the years called global warming a hoax and had once called it a Chinese plot aimed at wrecking the U.S. economy.

climate change
People clean up their house that was destro. yed by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach. VOA

Trump told 60 Minutes he does not know if global waning is manmade, despite the scientific research showing that pollution and human activity is the major contributor. He said he does not want to give “trillions and trillions of dollars” and lose “millions and millions of jobs” to prevent it.

Most scientists link a warming planet with storms that are more intense. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle last week as the strongest storm to strike the continental United States in nearly 50 years.

Trump said there have been hurricanes that were “far worse” than Michael and said scientists calling for action on climate change have a “very big political agenda.”

Meanwhile, the town of Mexico Beach, Florida was just about wiped off the face of the earth by Hurricane Michael.

“Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott says. “It’s like a war zone.”

Climate Change
Scenes of devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the aftermath for Hurricane Michael. VOA

Michael’s 250 kilometer per hour winds left only a handful of buildings standing. Concrete slabs are left where houses and stores thrived. Only a few trees are left. The main U.S. highway that goes through the town is not drivable.

Mexico Beach police chief Anthony Kelly told VOA’s Spanish Service, “When you come here and see the devastation, it’s hard, it’s emotionally hard.”

“We know each person in the majority of the houses. They know us,” Kelly said. “All these people are close to us. And now we’re going around the neighborhoods making sure that they’re not in any of these houses that are so extremely damaged.”

“Looking in the debris, seeing photos of grandkids, people that we know that have come back here year after year, that’s the emotional side,” he said. “I’ve got officers that this is their first catastrophic event, and it’s hard to explain to them, you know, it’s going to get better, because they’re seeing reality.”

The town’s medical manager, Patricia Cantwell, said, “It’s extremely sad that the devastation has been so rampant throughout the Panhandle” of the state.

“Having lived through Hurricane Andrew in south Florida (in 1992), it’s going to take a while,” she told VOA. “It’s one day at a time. It looks overwhelming to start, but, you know, one day at a time. It’s going to take years to get things back up and running.”

Climate Change
Scenes of devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the aftermath for Hurricane Michael.. VOA

Brock Long, the head Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the death toll in Mexico Beach could rise, as rescue workers continue to search the rubble left behind by the storm. It could take another 10 days to compile a damage estimate.

Some physical structures in the town were lifted off their moorings and moved hundreds of meters away by the winds and storm surge from the storm. Other buildings were left in masses of debris, demolished beyond recognition.

Also Read: US First Lady Melania Trump Starts The Final Leg of Her Africa Trip

President Trump signed a declaration Sunday saying the federal government will, for now, pay for 100 percent of the cleanup in Florida, temporarily easing the financial burden from the state. (VOA)