HYDERABAD FLOODS – Just another story?

It is that time of the year in India, the so-called “emerging economy” but with a lopsided income distribution – The Monsoon. With monsoon follows the cyclones and with cyclones follows the ‘occasional’ floods. The matter of concern however in recent times is the fact that they’re not ‘occasional’ anymore. It has become a regular phenomenon but with intensity multiplied every year. The single biggest cause is a no-brainer: CLIMATE CHANGE.

Hyderabad, the Deccan city which is ranked as “The best city to live in India” for the 5th time in a row (According to Mercer’s Quality of Living rankings). The city which boasts of its cultural diversity, historical distinction, religious harmony, and a wide array of economic opportunities is now devastated by floods. The poor institutional mechanism to tackle such disasters, lack of awareness amongst masses, and most importantly the questionable political will of the government to strengthen the system -all meant a loss of both lives and property like “like-never-before”. 

Security personnel evacuating citizens

Climate change and the subsequent changing weather patterns will ensure every coming year to be a “like-never-before” year. So what do we do? Play the blame game? No. We should be better equipped to face the crisis and minimize the impacts of climate change. Taking a cue from other countries or from the history of Hyderabad city itself (Thanks to the efforts of Asaf Jahi rulers Mir Mahboob Ali Khan and Mir Osmal Ali khan who built Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar after assessing the 1908 flood situation in the city, the ravage of floods now is greatly reduced) would give us some insights. 

After a fair bit of research, I found one astounding mechanism, to handle river flooding is Japan’s The Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel. It is a method to empty the water of flooded zones into huge vertical shafts built underground and release it into rivers through an underground passage. Before releasing, the drained water is stored in a huge pressure-controlled tank. This freshwater can also be used in several ways- household supply during drought times, harness hydroelectricity which will eventually pay off the capital investment and reduce carbon footprint. 

A schematic representation

Actual underground view of the drainage system

There are many other such mechanisms to ease the effects of the deluge which can be tailormade to the needs of Hyderabad and other cities with a prevalence of floods. Some might question – can a country like India where malnutrition is still the leading cause of death in children afford to invest in such technology? Yes. Disaster management tech is not a luxury anymore. It is a necessity. Even though humanity as a whole will have to pay the price for climate change, the maximum brunt of it is felt by the people belonging to lower strata of the economy. 

Prevention is not just better than cure, it is also economical. Hope the governments at all levels realize this and take appropriate measures. It’s high time people acknowledged climate change and its effects, the glimpses of which we’ve already seen in 2020. Well, It’s just the beginning!