Question: Inefficient and unscientific urban planning is the real culprit behind disasters than nature’s fury. Explain.
Answer: Large cities in India such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad etc have all faced nature’s wrath in recent times. While the nature is blamed for the misery, there is undeniable evidence that human activities are overwhelmingly contributing to such disasters.
Anthropogenic reasons for natural disasters
- Blockage of water path
Natural drains and rivers act as path for taking rainwater away from city but they have been encroached and polluted with wastes that has prevented it from working efficiently. These blocks instead act as water stopper and create floods during heavy showers.
Ex: The Mithi river in Mumbai is blocked with waste and it cannot transport excessive water during heavy rains.
- Degradation of water sinks (wetlands)
High land value has forced real estate developers to construct houses in previously natural wetland region. These wetlands act as water sinks and recharge groundwater. They also keep city temperature in control. Degradation of such lands will result in accumulation of water.
Ex: Lakes of Bengaluru acted as natural water sinks. They have been destroyed and housing projects are undertaken in their places.
- Location selection ( centripetal drainage)
Human planning sometimes are so inefficient that cities are constructed in regions where it is most risky. This includes building in lowland area with centripetal drainage. This will result in inflow of heavy water during high rainfall without any outflow.
Measures to protect against natural disasters
- Area mapping
The city has to be extensively mapped to identify region and places that are vulnerable to disaster. There should be infrastructure such as wide drains and underground transport of water to prevent accumulation. This will help in long term.
Ex: Underground rainwater transport in Tokyo.
- Disaster prediction
Software and high precision satellite data can predict the intensity of rainfall and also the effects in an area. This data can be used to evacuate residents to safer location and prevent loss of life. Disaster response team can be kept ready to face any challenges.
- Strict guidelines for real estate developers
The government must make strict guidelines for developing housing projects. The elevation of the area, its soil type, drainage and other geographical features have to be studied before giving permission. This can help prevent future damages.
Thus, natural disasters cannot be stopped but its impact can be reduced. Human mistakes that may intensify the impact of disasters can be reduced with proper planning and implementation.