Monday, August 23, 2010

City paralysed every time it rains? Blame it on unplanned urbanisation

City paralysed every time it rains? Blame it on unplanned urbanisation
Bengaluru


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Mindless concretisation of drains and indiscriminate felling of trees are causing flooding in the city with every downpour.
Experts say civic authorities need to come up with long term solutions for the flooding problem rather than go in for highly technical solutions which will not serve the purpose, reports Amit S.
Upadhye. The rains are a wakeup call for BBMP though its officials claim that they have been involved in desilting of drains to prevent flooding.

Bengaluru, Aug. 22: Civic experts are of the opinion that with every downpour, the amount of surface run-off water is increasing in Bengaluru. They blame this on the mindless concretisation of drains and the indiscriminate felling of trees, which have left no space for water to seep in and is causing flooding on even main roads.
The deluge on Saturday not only killed an auto driver, it also forced the city to come to a grinding halt.
Traffic movement was hampered with even emergency vehicles including ambulances which had to rush to trouble spots, getting delayed. The rains are a wake-up call for BBMP though its officials claim that they have been involved in desilting of drains to prevent flooding. If so, why is the city rendered to a pathetic state whenever it rains?
"Unplanned urbanisation has drastically altered the drainage characteristics of natural catchment areas by increasing the volume and rate of surface water.
Drainage systems are unable to cope with the increased volume of water leading to blockages for which the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste is also to blame. Encroachment of wetlands also obstructs floodways and makes the land lose its natural storage capacity," says Dr T.V. Ramachandra of the Wetland and Energy Research Group at IISc.

His report on urban flooding in Bengaluru, which was released last year, pointed out how the increased flooding had social consequences and was impacting business, property rates and causing traffic related woes in residential areas.

"The BBMP is going for highly technical solutions for the flooding problem which will not solve anything. Every drain in Bengaluru has its own charac teristic and need to be dealt with after taking the citizens living nearby into confidence.
One standard solution can not be applied to all drains in city," feels R. Suresh, a civic expert and Director, Public Affairs Centre.

"Most civic solutions are prepared purely from the technical point of view and hence they do not serve the purpose for a long time.
Before the monsoon, the BBMP had taken up massive drain cleaning work, but just one rain refilled all the drains," he said.According to civic experts, in the last one year, several roads have been redesigned eliminating rainwater outlets.

"Some of the shoulder drains are at a higher level.
Water cannot enter them easily and ultimately runs on the roads. With both ends of the road flooded with surface water, vehicles have no choice but to run on the centre, adding to congestion," said a civic expert. "Urban flooding creates several infrastructure problems and huge economic losses as it affects production and causes heavy damage to goods and property. It wrecks buildings and public and private facilities. Street flooding can also throw traffic management out of gear" .

T.V. Ramachandra, Energy and Wetland Research Group, IISc Why is BBMP not doing anything to cover the shoulder drains with mesh covers?
Garbage is pushed inside drains by BBMP workers themselves. Periodic desilting has not helped much in preventing increased flooding. A tree got uprooted in Saturday's rain because the pavement was badly cemented leaving no space for it to sink its roots into the ground.

Kathyayini Chamraj, executive trustee, CIVIC We are doing our best to respond effectively to citizens' woes during the rains. Senior officials including the BBMP commissioner toured the flood hit areas in south Bengaluru on Saturday. Apart from Prahari vehicles, we are taking assistance of the fire and emergency services during floods.

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