The Narendra Modi government is planning at least two initiatives to tackle the issue of urban flooding. The steps are being taken after floods inundated cities such as Chennai in 2015 and Mumbai, which was inundated by floods earlier this week. One of the initiatives is being led by R Chidambaram, who is the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Prime Minister, while the other plan is being headed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Chidambaram’s proposal is likely to be implemented as a pilot project in Chennai, while NDMA’s plan is likely to be implemented as a pilot project in Guwahati. Both the initiatives work on different principles and tackle the problem in different ways, according to an Indian Express report.
The first of these initiatives will consist of early warning systems, these systems will warn local authorities and give them information on the lines of which areas are likely to be inundated by floods, to what degree will the area be flooded and for how long will the area remain water logged. This measure, although a short term one, will help authorities divert traffic in time and help organise the evacuation of residents if required. The second of the objectives, a more long term plan, centres around the drainage system of the cities. The plan seeks to de-clog the existing drainage network, adopt better practices of waste management and to regulate the construction of areas which are located in low lying areas, as per the report.
Both these initiatives were planned after the 2015 Chennai floods, which had brought the city to its knees. Former Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Shailesh Nayak told Indian Express, ”The drainage system of the city is good and all the storm water should flow out of the existing tunnels after the rains have stopped, but this does not happen as these drains are clogged.” Nayak added ”The drainage system in our cities was not designed for the type of rains which we have received on so many occasions. Interventions have now become necessary”. Under Nayak, the Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services had developed a tsunami early-warning system, he is currently involved with efforts to prepare an urban flooding strategy for Chennai.
The pilot project, which is expected to be completed in six months will be ready before the next monsoon if the results of the project are positive then similar strategies will be implemented in other coastal cities, IE reported.