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Brand Bengaluru not rain ready yet

Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru took 10 cm of rain in just 90 minutes in its central business district on Tuesday, bringing the city to a halt.

Published: 20th May 2022 07:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2022 07:00 AM   |  A+A-

People wade through knee-deep water near Silk Board Junction after heavy rain lashed Bengaluru on Tuesday evening | Express

People wade through knee-deep water near Silk Board Junction after heavy rain lashed Bengaluru on Tuesday evening | Express

Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru took 10 cm of rain in just 90 minutes in its central business district on Tuesday, bringing the city to a halt. On average, the city recorded 13 cm of rain in a day—the second highest in a single day in May since 1909. Waterlogged areas and flooded arterial roads wrought havoc on the city.When such an event occurs, political powers go into overdrive. The opposition goes hammer and tongs at the government. The latter goes on the defensive. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai—who also holds the portfolio of Bengaluru Development—assured the people that the city was prepared with rain-ready infrastructure and that temporary flooding was bound to happen because of its topography.

It does not matter which political party is ruling, action and reaction from both sides remain the same each time torrential rains hit the city. Political focus is at best myopic when it comes to city planning. Senior BJP leader S M Krishna, who has been the state’s chief minister (1999–2004) and then Union external affairs minister (2009–2012), wrote a letter to Bommai expressing concern over rains impacting the image of Brand Bengaluru. Krishna, credited with promoting Bengaluru as the “Silicon Valley of India”, has expressed fears about rains exposing the chinks in the existing infrastructure, hampering investment flow to Bengaluru and Karnataka.

But what is overlooked is that Bengaluru never saw flooding of a serious nature until after the 1980s—the decade witnessing a surge in influx into the city. This forced a proliferation of residential and commercial infrastructure. The pursuit of the real estate sector waylaid infrastructure development to make Bengaluru flood-proof and rain-ready. Haphazard road development obstructed water from percolating into the ground. Apart from this, the efficiency of the city’s four river valleys on its outskirts in draining floodwaters—Hebbal, Vrishabhavathi, Koramangala and Challaghatta—was compromised as these turned into drains due to increasing pollution and uncapped inflow of sewage and industrial/domestic pollutants into them. These no longer drain the city’s floodwaters as they did in the past. Bengaluru may just be the best example for smaller cities across India to learn a lesson from—by not emulating its model of development.



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