As I sit to write this article, I am reminded of an old joke that my cousins would often crack at my expense when I moved to Mumbai. Almost every monsoon they would tease me asking if my water boat’s ready, afterall I must be prepared to float, Mumbai is flooded every Monsoon. Whether you like it or not, isn’t rather intriguing that how every monsoon, there are select pockets in every major city that will get water logged unendingly. To make things even worse, you have almost 3-4 major metros under water siege this monsoon!
So what is it we are not doing or not addressing that is leading to the problem. Well I am not debating the huge volume of precipitation that we have to deal with in India when the monsoon is as per estimates. But the fact is this is not an uncertainty. This not like a sudden downpour in Houston that got the entire city flooded. So have Bangalore and Gurgaon come to an absolute stand still, why is Chennai getting flooded again and again and why is Mumbai’s Milan Subway synonymous with water logging in Monsoons? I believe the problem somewhere is deep set in the urban planning and its actual execution. The fact is though we talk about making Mumbai India’s Shanghai and what not, we are still relying on British era infrastructural foundation in most of our major cities.
Political apathy and the city machinery basking the comfort of complacency seem to me as the major culprit. Often the question that is raised is why are citizens accepting it??? Well the question is what are the options available? I am paying all the taxes that the Government has levied on me, I am also paying special taxes for the infrastructural development of the Mumbai city but in return I still have to battle it out with potholes every monsoon. Can I stop sending my child to school just because I have to deal with hour-long traffic jams as a result of these unending potholes or can I use that as an excuse to not earn a livelihood? What is even more frustrating is the fanfare with initiatives to better infrastructure across major cities are launched but are never completed with the same conviction.
When you compare Indian cities with some of the most developed urban centres like Singapore/Shanghai, the biggest difference is the will to excel! Perhaps it is time the elected representatives took the task of bettering infrastructure not just to win a vote in the next election but also to make the quality of life in these cities a bit better! Additionally the time has come to move in sync with the modern demand. We live in the 21st century, let our cities not reek of 19th century problems.