At own peril

City after big city in the country is being tested by heavy rains and each one is failing miserably in surmounting simple challenges such as expelling rain water from urban limits. Hyderabad is the latest in line and it has had to pay with at least three lives and much distress caused by waterlogging in low-lying areas.

These regular crises prove that urban planning is non-existent in India. It is easy to blame corrupt officials who permit wayward constructions but the fact must not be forgotten that it is us, the common citizens, who are extremely eager to blatantly flout all and every urban law in our activities.

The key issue of inundation of urban areas is the result of unplanned construction in places where such constructions should not have been allowed in the first place. Low-lying areas are bound to get flooded if they do not have adequate drainage. All big cities across the world have been taking proper care to safeguard the sewerage and sewage issues very efficiently. Many cities deal with rain water separately.

Sadly in India, urban planners are busy making money to give sanctions to plans. Take for example Bhubaneswar. While the Municipal Corporation has very limited role in planning, the development authority has not only usurped but is keenly desirous of destroying the basic amenities that had somehow managed to survive. Bhubaneswar was supposedly a planned city.

Nearly a decade or so ago, some interested officials roped in IIT Kharagpur to prepare a master plan for the growth of Bhubaneswar. One simply has to take a drive on the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack road or even within Bhubaneswar to observe how indiscriminately constructions are coming up without paying heed to urban requirements.

The Federal government, whether UPA or NDA, has constantly been talking of urbanising India. When a large number of people from different social and economic backgrounds live close together, the problems become collectively unmanageable. India is primarily a rural country.

Unlike other Far East Asian nations, our concept has always been in favour of big cities. While we delve deep into superficial things such as renaming Gurgaon to Gurugram, we forget to take note of the utter disaster that befell this satellite city of Delhi during the last monsoon.

The Indian establishment needs to take a hard look at encouraging further urbanisation. Apart from infrastructure, care is required to be taken of how the average citizen of this country behaves and it is important to adopt measures to safeguard infrastructure from the very same folks who would be using them.

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