Bangkok floods – Next, New Delhi ?

08 Nov

Almost all of us have read it. Most have seen footage in TV prime time News while having our drink/dinner. The devastating floods of Bangkok which is more or less unprecedented.  But watching Bangkok day after day for the past one month I started to think what if we have one such flood in New Delhi or Mumbai or for that matter  Kolkata ( Calcutta ) in Bengal where the great Ganges flows? I mean if you look at the images it looks similar to many South Asian cities across countries.

Well we have seen floods, in India especially it happens to the hapless villagers in the states of Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam more or less every year. Army helicopters to the rescue etc..etc. But with rapid urbanization, especially unplanned, lopsided and utterly dysfunctional Center/State/Local governmental development rules, add to that the people who are mostly uninformed and do not consider Environment, Health & Safety as an important factor in their lives. We too are fast going towards disaster!

If we just take the 2,525 km of the river Ganga into consideration some of the major towns and cities we would encounter are  Patna , Kannauj, Kashi, Allahabad, Murshidbad, Munger, Baharampur and Kolkata. Almost all are growing cities of modern India and are important cultural centers from the past. I can bet my last dollar that the term “Development Rules” would be an alien term to most of the inhabitants in most of these cities/towns. Now, Mumbai & New Delhi is different. Almost all have heard of it but never ever follow it. Sainik Farms, Adarsh..etc etc. The rich & famous of Mumbai & New Delhi are the proud custodians of the most corrupt practices as far as DC rules go. To them I would like to quote form the News papers about Bangkok –

“Floodwaters encircled two industrial estates in the east of Bangkok on Monday and closed in on the center of the capital”.

“It is now only about 7 km (4.5 miles) from the Silom business and entertainment district at the heart of Bangkok.”

“The estate has 254 factories with almost 50,000 workers. Consumer goods giant Unilever Pcl, Johnson & Johnson, Isuzu Motors and Honda Motor Co all have plants there. Honda, which was only just recovering from Japan’s earthquake in March, has suffered more than most.”

“Bang Chan, another estate north of Suvarnabhumi airport, is also threatened. With 93 factories and about 13,000 workers, it is home to food firms such as Nestle SA and President Bakery Pcl, which makes buns for McDonald’s”

Should one notice the above quotes – Industrial Estates, Commercial Districts, Cars, McDonald’s.. just like any big city of India.

Just like any big city of India which has not listened to saner voices warning of development near or on flood planes close to the river/sea.Where the Architects / City planners have either not cared or were forced to bow down to the Political masters. Politicians have only one agenda – power for self. Greed & Corruption are mandatory requirements for most. Almost all are literate but hardly any educated enough to have the wisdom to understand the long-term ramification of lopsided planing.

The banks of Yamuna (Jamuna) both on the banks of Delhi & Noida (UP) have been over exploited. The greatest shocker was to find the games village being built on the flood-plane ( dry river bed ) during the last Asian Games. Mumbai too keeps on encroaching the salt pans & mangroves. Maharashtra now has started chewing up the western ghats in the grab of Lavasa. The ghats are principal to Monsoon. Without them we will not be able to experience rain-fall as we know now. But who cares!

Now Bangkok does. When the flood is over, the why and how will be looked into; the report will not surprise any environmentalist because we already know the reasons. Its time the citizens of cities around the world start “google-ing” Sustainable Cities. Our salvation lies there.


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