Monday, December 07, 2015

Sustaining The Cities

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Although we constantly hear about rising global temperatures and shifting weather patterns, India seem to catch the worst of the rains and floods just about every year.  Somewhere in the nation the rains destroy the infrastructure and disrupt the life of citizens, in millions at a time.  This year has not been any different, in fact south India, especially Tamil Nadu has been seeing rains that it has not seen in a hundred years or more.

The floods in Mumbai and Chennai are really more manmade calamities rather than just once in a 100 year rains.  We have nothing new to add to people and infrastructure management that has been developed to match the exponential growth in population.  Oh Yes! these urban centers have created millions of jobs and billions of revenues, but the government never bothers to map the needs of the population and how to manage their requirements.  There is never a disaster management plan for any major event in India.

I really needed to think of anger management this last week.  The flood situation is so severe that there is no plan to do anything to help the people.  The whole country goes down when there are rains, and we call them heavy rains.  The last time I was really angry writing a column was when BBC aired a documentary calling it “India’s Daughter”.  The idiots who spoke of women in terms that were not worthy of any documentary let alone a BBC special on India.  The documentary although hyped did not get much support or acceptance to what it portrayed.  This time I am not angry but really sad, when I look at the rain havoc in Chennai and surroundings.

Today when we see anywhere in India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, politicians including the PM taking helicopter survey of the disasters, specially of the rain havoc, followed by severe floods and loss of life and property and infrastructure, makes you wonder what are they doing? sightseeing the disasters.

Right after the ridiculous Ariel survey, immediately comes a statement of anguish and then an announcement of relief from the center.  For some miraculous reason the guys in politics seems to be unaffected by any kind of natural calamities that get all the normal folks.  The politicians can travel at will, and dressed as if they just came out of the shower, have no issues with power or communications, all while the public suffers.  Politicians in power travel to disaster areas as if they are vacationing and make nonsensical announcements that really never address the concerns of people suffering the calamities.

If they really did address the concerns that plague the people, we will never have the same floods in the same place every time it rains, would we?

Also, with each disaster the announcement of 1000’s of crores of relief which no one knows how they will come to help the people, and when the money is released how will it help the affected?  We really don’t even know if all the announcements on 1000’s of crores of pledges by the politicians really are being allocated as promised and if there is a record of the reality of promises and spending towards people’s relief efforts.

In India the remnants of manmade and natural disasters stay put long after their time and continue to remind people of the misery that is bestowed upon them.

Is Modi and his management skills ready to be used in his plans to build 100 smart cities in India, to meet the country’s needs?  Most of the cities that are being severely affected y rains are in the list of 100 smart cities.  Can someone get off from their seats and start implementation of infrastructure that is required for a smart city? Communications, transportation, water management, electricity, sewage and waste management, banking and food, things that can be better planned and managed as a part of making a city smart; all these can be put in place to make the city smart.  If we have a plan for building and making 100 cities smart, why not start now.  What good is the wasted helicopter rides and unfunded 1000’s of crores being pledged.  Why not learn from what is happening with the nature and start building the infrastructure that will sustain, handle and eliminate future problems in dealing with the nature?

It can be smart for citizens to demand the politicians to invest in the cities, and invest in such a way that every aspect of natural and man-made calamities can be forecasted and remedies put in place.  Citizens, please get smart, and make your politicians place you, your living place, and your infrastructure given the smart planning, otherwise boot them out.

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