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Overlook ‘smart’ new cities India demands old ones to be significantly less dumb

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has grand styles to create one hundred futuristic ‘smart’ cities in India, but as this week’s devastating flooding in Chennai shows, fixing today’s accident-prone metropolises appears to be the a lot more pressing job.

Locals are in no doubt as to why a mix of flood waters and sewage is swilling neck-deep around components of the southern city of 6 million men and women right after weeks of monsoon rains culminated in a 345 mm (14-inch) cloudburst in 24 hours. [nL3N13S3G6]

“There is nowhere for the water to go since of unchecked creating activity,” said V.R. Devika, who fled her ground-floor apartment to seek refuge with her upstairs neighbors.

“All the lake regions have been converted into housing colonies,” added the 61-year-old, who runs an arts charity.

What began out as a natural disaster in the state capital of Tamil Nadu soon became a much more serious man-created one, with specialists blaming negative urban arranging and rampant “encroachment” by fly-by-night property developers for creating the circumstance worse.

Similar floods struck Mumbai in 2005 and Kashmir’s winter capital, Srinagar, last year. There, as in Chennai, building blocked storm water channels and decreased the capacity of reservoirs developed to soak up unseasonal rains. [nL3N0RE0B2]

“As cities grow, with a nod and a wink, unauthorized construction along these channels and lakes chokes water flow,” stated Shailesh Pathak, executive director at Bhartiya Group, which has its own smart city project in Bengaluru, runs a special economic zone and is expanding into low-expense housing.

RUNWAY RIVER

The sight of three dozen airliners with their undercarriages covered by flood waters may well lead stranded passengers to wonder whether Chennai’s low-lying international airport was built in the incorrect place.

Professionals say they’d be correct: A single runway traverses the Adyar river, which burst its banks soon after some of the heaviest cloudbursts in the region in over a century swamped Chennai.

Some 270 people have died as a outcome of recent flooding and nearly 1,000 have been seriously injured.

“They have not created any provisions for preventing flood water from entering,” mentioned Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai aviation expert and former air security adviser to the national government.

“The authorities and the airlines just have industrial and political interests in mind. Security is the last avenue.”

Whilst Chennai is not exclusive, authorities say it was worse hit than the rest of India’s southeastern seaboard due to the fact of a development boom that has gone unchecked in the last 15 years.

“Chennai needs to relearn its water management,” mentioned Sushmita Sengupta at the Centre for Science and Atmosphere in New Delhi, adding that it was crucial for the city to restore what had when been a good natural drainage system.

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has counted more than 150,000 illegal buildings in the city. However, in spite of many demolition orders issued by the Madras High Court, they nonetheless stand.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram has described the flood damage as “unavoidable”, according to Tv reports.

It was not achievable to attain the state government for comment, with mobile and landline networks knocked out by the floods in a lot of Chennai.

Generating CITIES SMARTER

In July, 2005, 944 mm of rain fell on Mumbai in a single day, top to the deaths of 500 men and women. Heavy improvement had destroyed green spaces and mangrove forests, its all-natural flood protection, leaving the financial metropolis of 18 million reliant on an inadequate drainage method.

    The city set itself an ambitious plan then to set up pumping stations, widen drains and clean waterways. But that has missed deadlines, seen substantial expense overruns and is running practically a decade behind schedule.

Bhartiya’s Pathak said that under India’s weak federal framework, Modi alone lacked the energy to realize his smart cities initiative that promises a hygienic, networked life for a increasing generation of urban Indians.

Far better would be to empower major cities to establish their personal fate, he said, as with the most profitable urban projects in China.

“The leading Chinese megacities, where most development has occurred, are city states,” he stated. “So would India take into account city-state status, or sub-state status, for Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Pune?”

(Further reporting by Aby Jose Koiparambil in Bengaluru, Tommy Wilkes and Sankalp Phartiyal in New Delhi, Clara Ferreira Marques in Mumbai Writing by Douglas Busvine Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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