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Monday, April 12, 2021

Why is the effect of floods in Hyderabad so devastating?

Hyderabad has been brought to a crippling halt on Wednesday due to heavy rains followed by the terrifying floods. 15 people have lost their lives and it has also caused water logging in various parts of the city. Police teams and Disaster Response Force teams have evacuated many families from the flood-hit localities, even when the rescue efforts were difficult to reach in other areas.

But why do floods occur in Hyderabad? Heres what the experts have said when the city suffered similar effects in 2016.

Mohd Safiullah of Deccan Heritage Trust said: “The Hyderabad of the early 1900s was wise than the Hyderabad today. In 1908, the devastation caused by a cloud burst, and the flooding claimed 15,000 lives and rendered 80,000 people homeless. But there were amends made after that. The heavy rains of August 2000 recorded a total of 469mm raindrops, due to which 90 residential areas were underwater. Even though committees were formed, reports were submitted, nothing useful resulted from those meetings. Because again in September 2016, the city was still flooding, Why? I believe we don’t have a far-sighted and efficient statemen anymore, only politicians.”

A big lie that everyone has bought, that it doesnt rain so much in Hyderabad, but history proves us wrong.

Anand Vishwanadha, a bio conservationist and professional wildlife and bird photographer said: While the overall slopes of all the localities in Hyderabad remain the same, almost all nalas, storm drains, tunnels are gone, they’re either land-filled and built over or simply filled with garbage. So, the water which is used to flowing in a particular direction has no choice anymore. So, 16 years after 2000, we aren’t anywhere close to reducing the risks.

Hyderabad is a system of catchments. The western edge is in Godavari River Basin.  To the east, it is the Krishna river basin. Hyderabad is in the Deccan region, has a very chaotic drainage pattern. Anant Maringanti, an urban geographer and director of Hyderabad Urban Labs said: “Water here does not flow in a single direction as the slope is in multiple directions. These tanks served agrarian purposes and the surrounding areas were ‘protected local catchment areas.’ In the last 40 years, we have built a complete city on top of this agrarian imprint. We need to start taking stock of the entire drainage system, not just the nalas.”

A multidimensional approach to reducing risk.

In a report titled ‘State of India’s Urban Water Bodies,’ the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) estimated that Hyderabad has lost 3,245 of its wetlands in the last 12 years.

The report said that Urban Water Bodies have been a victim of unplanned urbanization, due to which they face several threats like encroachment, disposal of sewage, and groundwater decline.

Urban stormwater management isn’t efficient unless it was handled in a conjunctive manner. In the recent case, there are some of the management options mentioned which have to be carried simultaneously to address the problem:

  1. Risk mapping of the areas needs to be done to assess the vulnerability, related to urban floods.
  2. The town planning department of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation should regularly monitor the prohibited areas to prevent encroachment.
  3. Promote groundwater recharge and pollutant reduction by removing concrete flood-control channels and exposing the underlying native sediment.
  4. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation or Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board Should rethink its policy of charging amount for rainwater harvesting structures while according permission to plan. They should keep this as a checkpoint for giving an occupancy certificate.

Such are the measures planned to reduce the risk of human loss and city damage if they ever again experience such dangerous rainfall and floods.

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