Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri has called for putting ‘systems in place’ to enhance our emergency response infrastructure to meet large number of ‘inter-related challenges’ stemming from ‘urban flooding’. He was addressing the media after conclusion of a workshop on “Urban Flooding Resilience”.

He said, he will hold talks with experts to look at the causation, to put together facts on the recent floods and later look at disaster management in all kinds of urban areas. He said, the idea is to chalk out ways of prevention and mitigation of floods in Indian towns and cities and set into motion the national guidelines on management of urban flooding. Puri said while it is not easy to make the guidelines enforceable, flood mitigation and management could be made a reform condition in various flagship missions of the ministry.

Puri said that at some level, flooding can be an indictment of municipal management, as in lack of dredging and drain cleaning, it can also be caused by the urban heat island effect. He said that the area between natural disaster and man-made blunders is becoming very difficult to define, as much of what appears to be natural is often man-made due to climate change.  “We have to deal with disaster management in the context of robust urbanisation. There are measures that cities can undertake, such as changing the nature of buildings and materials used, ensuring water conservation or planting more trees, and overall design an eco-system that helps prevent and mitigates the impact of floods” he said.

The minister noted that flooding in urban centres is due to inadequate storm-water drains and large-scale encroachments along natural waterways, and stressed the need for improved forecasting and urban planning strategies.  He also called for mapping of emergency services and disaster management response centres, strengthening of communication services, solid waste management, rejuvenating water bodies and involving the civil society and NGOs, generating awareness among people to making the systems urban flooding resilient.

The workshop noted that climate change and increasing urbanization pose huge challenges in managing urban planning for a sustainable future. Intense urbanization resulting in the so-called mega cites aggravates floods by increasing the amount of impermeable surfaces and modifying flow routes. Statistics show that flood disasters are one of the most significant in terms of damages and losses. Urbanization rates are increasing rapidly and it is important to learn how to live with floods by alleviating their consequences, in the present and future. The Workshop noted that this concept can be used to measure and visualize the changes in flood resilience attained by different flood control measures, as well as in future scenarios of population growth, uncontrolled urbanization or climate change. It said, this capacity can be realized by timely implementation of effective measures that allow for the response to and recovery from floods: presence of flood awareness, flood mitigation measures, insurance systems, forecasting and warning systems, and crisis management.

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