Two sides of the same coin: Shrinking water bodies and urban floods

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published Published on Aug 7, 2020   modified Modified on Aug 8, 2020

-Down to Earth

Water bodies have become even more critical in current times when cities are facing the challenge of rapid, unplanned urbanisation

Lakes and wetlands are an important part of urban ecosystem. They perform significant environmental, social and economic functions — from being a source of drinking water and recharging groundwater to supporting biodiversity and providing livelihoods.

Their role becomes even more critical in the present context, when cities are facing the challenge of rapid unplanned urbanisation.

Their numbers are declining rapidly. For example, Bangalore had 262 lakes in the 1960s; now only 10 of them hold water. At least 137 lakes were listed in Ahmedabad in 2001; construction work started on 65 of them.

Another example exhibiting this increasing loss of urban water bodies is Hyderabad. In the last 12 years, Hyderabad has lost 3,245 hectares of its wetlands.

Concretisation has been a major problem in several cities and towns, according to The National Disaster Management Guidelines: Management of Urban Flooding report, published by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2010.

According to the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), 31 per cent of the country was urbanised in 2011. The ministry says almost 50 per cent of the country will be urbanised by 2050.

MoUD data also suggests a 54 per cent increase in the number of cities and towns between 2001 and 2011.

Natural streams and watercourses, formed over thousands of years due to the forces of flowing water in the respective watersheds, have been altered because of urbanisation.

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Down to Earth, 7 August, 2020,

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