FLOODS IN HYDERABAD; A NATURAL OR MAN-MADE DISASTER?
In the Mid-October of 2020, Hyderabad saw an extreme weather event that left the whole city stunned. Hyderabad experienced heavy rainfall on 12 and 13 October with 32 cm of record-breaking torrential rain creating flash floods on the city. On the 18 of October, Rainfall reached over 110 millimeters in parts of Hyderabad, causing River Musi to flood, 14 tanks breached, leaving several people dead, and dozens of localities waterlogged. The Chief Minister of Telangana estimated ₹5,000 crore was worth of damage with over 40,000 families affected by the flood.
But what exactly was the cause of this disaster? And was it really a ‘natural’ disaster?
The disaster has been in the making for several years, “These floods are the direct result of the multidimensional failure of the governments and more so, during the last 6 - 7 years. There is no preparedness, disaster management plans or an authority. With the GHMC not allowed to function properly, and a holistic, sustainable approach lacking, such devastation keeps recurring,” says Prof Purushottam Reddy, a noted environmentalist.
The Great Musi Floods of 1908 caused by unprecedented downpour had a major impact on Hyderabad, the natural disaster prompted the Nizam to build an underground drainage system, two balancing reservoirs, Himayathsagar and Osmansagar and a sewage treatment plant. Post-Independence, Hyderabad grew rapidly as the home for public sector organizations and constantly growing IT sector. The inflow of foreign direct investment and coming in of global IT majors such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon have transformed Hyderabad.
In contrast, the water bodies in Hyderabad reduced to 190 from over 2500 in 1970. The rapid urbanization, greed and lack of perspective growth plans, lands in riverbeds have been encroached/ grabbed each year, in the name of building colonies and apartment complexes by influential real estate developers and industry leaders backed by powerful politicians alleged Lubna Sarwat (environmentalist based in Hyderabad).
The impoverishedcitizens are fooled both by the land grabbers and the government, as the land grabbers sell the land but it’s the government who collects the tax and provide these areas with water and electricity even though the land itself is illegal.
The State Minister for Urban Development and IT, KT Rama Rao, had announced days before the flooding that the TRS Govt had spent Rs 67,500 crores on the development of urban infrastructure for Hyderabad to emerge as a global city since 2015, however, the heavy rains and flood has completely exposed the bad planning, encroachment of lakes and poor urban infrastructure and preparedness.