Our cities are not smart when it rains

Yes, it rained today. Due to a depression, heavy rains were forecast in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

We definitely needed rain- the reservoirs in the city of Hyderabad were going dry, needing water to tide over the rising demands and the crops needed rain too. But are our cities built to withstand rain, even mild to moderate downpours?

Definitely not. It has been revealed too many times and repeatedly that they simply are not. The floods in Mumbai every rainy season,the situation in Chennai last year,the disruption of life in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon and Bangalore everytime it rains, all say the same thing. The smart facade of our metros is washed away by the rains to reveal the reality of totally unplanned urban chaos.

hyderabad rains 2The situation in Hyderabad is no better. The capital of the most promising state for industrialists viz. Tatas and Birlas has simply no promise for its people. The city population in 1897 was 415,039. Today the city of Hyderabad covers an area of 650 square kilometers and has a population of 6,809,970 making it the fourth most populous city in India. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation( GHMC) is one of the richest of the municipalities in India.

Has anything changed in the infrastructure of the city? Not really.

It is always the poorest who face the brunt of nature. The homeless, those living under the ubiquitous blue tarpaulin sheets which serve as their homes, those living next to new constructions which collapse at the slightest pretext, killing and burying them at one go.

It is also the time when our sewage system is shown for what it is- most primitive.  The Swacch Bharat slogans sound hollow on rainy days like these. The beautiful MP Hema Malini can pose with a broom only on “sunny days.”  It requires only the trained sewage workers to brace themselves and clear the overflowing drains so that our cities can look smart again.

The Larsen and Toubro company which has taken charge of building the Metro rail for this city has wrecked the already bad roads. Having  chosen all the main roads including national highways it has made commuting hell for Hyderabadis, since its work began(nearly 2 yrs ago). The Telangana government has  passed the responsibility of maintaining  those roads to this huge company which has done next to nothing as our terrible roads speak for themselves.

“Seven people die in the fury of Hyderabad rains”- the headlines will scream today and tomorrow. And then life will go on…. The dead are gone, buried in the heartless bricks they were building. The living will continue to live in these modern jungles.


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