How we turned our cities into disaster zones

Our climate is changing. Cities are collapsing. Mumbai became the latest example of what a deluge can do to the civic infrastructure.

Published: 31st August 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2017 12:39 AM   |  A+A-

Our climate is changing. Cities are collapsing. Mumbai became the latest example of what a deluge can do to the civic infrastructure. Incessant rains accompanied by wild winds brought India’s commercial capital to a grinding halt. People opened their homes and offices to stranded strangers, clubs and hotels put out helpline numbers offering free tea and snacks. The Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force were on red alert as the city went under water.

Well, the climate experts claim or warn that this is only a trailer. Much worse is in store. Our cities are simply not equipped to handle rains more than 70 mm, anything more means disaster. Are we prepared? No. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation—the richest civic body in the country with an estimated annual budget of Rs 37,000 crore—seems clueless.

It can be accused of corruption, mismanagement, but not of anything remotely linked to planning. We adopted the Brit lifestyle and the language, not the urban planning nor the railway maintenance. Whether it’s Mumbai, Chennai, or Kolkata, cities have grown in complete disregard of civic guidelines. The rates for every single illegal construction and encroachment that chokes a city are pre-determined. And slums abound.

There’s more than a city infrastructure that’s collapsing. Our greed for land has destroyed the wetlands. The mangroves of Mumbai which once absorbed the excess water and recharged the groundwater have been felled. If the Mithi river of Mumbai is filled with plastic and silt, the Buckingham canal in Chennai is choked with encroachment.

After a little bit of excess downpour, Bengaluru was under water this August and last. And every time catastrophe comes, the locals help each other, but never their cities. The cities lurch from one inundation to another. Even then, the big metro facing deluge and death attracts attention—not the vast rural hinterlands of Bihar, Assam, UP or West Bengal, where floods are an annual event, and so are the deaths and the destitution.

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp