Hyderabad in the last few hours witnessed a massive flood that left its several parts drained and caused Hyderabad’s Balanagar Lake to breach its boundaries last night, causing huge flash floods in nearby areas.
Disaster management agencies have managed to limit the impact of the disaster as many of those marooned in submerged areas and flooded houses were rescued. But the extent of the damage and the turmoil shows a lack of preparation and disaster mitigation, a problem that plagues most urban centers in the country.
Much of the damage was due to the overflowing of lakes — in particular, the Hussain Sagar Lake in the middle of the city and the breaching of stormwater drains. Construction over lake beds and encroachments of drainage channels have been identified as problems that have exacerbated flooding and inundation in the city in the past (the deluge in August 2000, for example). But the little that has been done to unblock existing storm drains over the last decade has not been enough to handle the requirements of the city, which still depends upon an antiquated sewerage and drainage system. Hyderabad urgently needs to expand and remodel its drainage system. Besides lakes and canals, wetlands and watersheds play a vital role in absorbing excess rainfall, but regrettably, rapid urbanization in the twin cities has resulted in the loss of a large portion of the wetlands. An analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment in 2016 revealed that 3,245 hectares of water bodies were lost in Hyderabad between 1989 and 2001. In the long term, the effects of flooding due to deluges can only be mitigated if urban planners take into account the hydro-geology of cities and ensure that construction, development, and land occupation do not take place in a way that reduces the area of wetlands.