There has been a recent trend of tech workers in Bangalore’s Silicon Valley tweeting photos of their new mode of transportation: tractor.
The Silicon Valley Bengaluru of India is known all over the globe for being one of the leading exporters of information technology (IT) in the country. Several parts of the city have been submerged by rainwater over the past few days, making headlines over the past few days.
“It is true that Bengaluru has been hit by unprecedented rains. In this time of difficulty, the government and the community must work together. It is not a time to point fingers. The consequence of this kind of rainfall in any city in the world would be the same,”
“It is not a time to point fingers. The consequence of this kind of rainfall in any city in the world would be the same,”Dr Sudhakar said in his Twitter posts
In the aftermath of the heavy rains that led to massive flooding in the city, which affected both the rich and ordinary citizens, gaps in infrastructure, planning and enforcement have been exposed. The worst effects have been felt in the east, southeast, and northeast neighbourhoods of the city.
The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association (CREDAI) said 15 percent of the city had been affected by floods, and even less in the southeast.
Furthermore, slums and workers’ colonies are flooded with water. There are also pictures and videos going viral on social media showing upscale gated communities and tech parks flooded with water and the rich being evacuated on trucks, tractors, and boats.
Rainfall is clearly the main villain in this story. Between September 1 and 6, Bengaluru received a whopping 13cm of rain, far exceeding the normal rainfall of around 3cm. As a result of the extensive rain, lakes were already overflowing and could not accommodate any more water.
There are dozens of interconnecting, mostly man-made lakes in Bangalore, which earned it the name “city of lakes.”. Until about the early 1970s, some 280 of these artificial lakes allowed for the transfer of excess rain during heavy rainfall, but by 2016 their number was down to 194 as the city’s area and population expanded,
A further factor that plays into this is the fact that lakes are interconnected with canals and drains which constitute the basic storm water collection system. Nevertheless, Bengaluru, India’s tech hub, has witnessed rapid urbanisation and land shortages that have led to uncontrolled development in its neighbourhoods. As a result, lakes and storm water drains have been encroached upon.
Drainage and canals connecting the lakes became obstructed by roads, buildings, and other infrastructure, causing flooding to occur more frequently.
As per another IISc study, the built-up area in Bengaluru is estimated to have risen by over 1,000 per cent since the 1970s. According to a ToI report, it was nearly 8% in 1973 and now stands at 93.3%.
Bengaluru’s current situation is not the fault of one person, but a combination of successive governments and its citizens. Furthermore, the government is responsible for poor planning and lack of vision. Citizens are also responsible for encroachment, pollution of water bodies and SWDs, illegal construction, etc.
CREDAI said over the last couple of days, Bengaluru had received unprecedented rain. In spite of this, the city’s property prices are unlikely to be affected. Due to the floods, the projects are likely to be a little bit delayed.
BBMP commissioner Nath said the civic body has issued notices to several property owners who have encroached the drains. “Demolitions of the encroached properties started last week. Moreover, a new drain is being constructed at Outer Ring Road near Ecospace to reduce stagnation of water and the work will be completed soon.. The desilting of drains is an ongoing process,” he said.
There have been several representations by citizens groups to successive governments over time, but little has changed.
Gautam Bhan, an urbanist based in Bengaluru, while speaking at a recent symposium at IIT Delhi to honour the late Dinesh Mohan for whom cities were not motorised dystopias but human-centred habitations, posed an important question: can the crises facing our cities today be a way to rethink our path to urbanisation?
There is no question that the flood was caused by a natural phenomenon. However, there is also a need to take into account the design of urban cities. People are progressing at the expense of nature, and we as citizens should be concerned about this.
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