For a city like Mumbai, which is surrounded by the sea from three sides and lies in a Seismic Zone III area, how authorities judged that only floods during monsoons are the danger to prepare for, is a mystery that beckons solving.
Not only does this demonstrate the lax attitude of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and our planners, but also shows how ill prepared they are for a disaster. In a city with a population of over 1.2 crore people and no open spaces for evacuation, even a minor earthquake is a deathtrap.
While the draft DP proposed to dole out higher FSI to make taller buildings, it ignored basic safety modalities: where will residents escape to, if a tremor causes their buildings to crash like a pack of cards.
Flooding during monsoon is not the only danger. There are several manmade outlets to the sea; if they can carry water to the sea, the reverse can also happen. Even after the 2005 deluge, hardly has anything been done towards remedying the sorry situation of our city. Mithi River is still being ‘cleaned’.
The tsunami wreaked havoc in Chennai; cyclones ravaged entire villages and towns on coastal Andhra Pradesh. But our planners seem to have forgotten that we are on the coast as well. These calamities can strike any time, without any warning or intimation. It’s high time the city’s planners honour the trust 1.2 crore people have placed in them for taking the city into the future.
Moreover, the local disaster management cell should be empowered and equipped to reach the spot during calamities, and act to save lives. The system should ensure that local authorities do not have to await orders from higher-ups, during such emergencies.
No matter how fancy a tall tower looks in real estate brochures or skylines, the fact remains that without proper planning for natural disasters, they are ticking time bombs.