Experts feel that rapid, unplanned urbanisation in Cyberabad has turned the region from a fertile agriculture land dotted with lakes and rocks, to a dense concrete jungle.

Why a few hours of rain caused traffic chaos in Hyderabads Hitec cityImage: Twitter/@MorsuHari
news Civic issues Sunday, June 23, 2019 - 13:02

Monsoon seems to have not just brought showers which provided respite from a heatwave, but also fresh woes of its own across Hyderabad. As the city received its first monsoon rainfall on Friday evening, massive traffic chaos was witnessed in areas like Madhapur, Hitec city and Gachibowli, the IT hub of Hyderabad. With rain water getting stagnated on the road during peak hours on Friday, thousands of vehicles got stuck for hours. Many lamented that the traffic jam was so bad, it took more than three hours to ride three km in the IT corridor.

Taking to social media, many citizens pointed out that the incident also exposed the lack of preparedness of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in ensuring that the city was ready to handle the rain.

The Hyderabad Metro Rail seems to have come as a saviour for many – according to Hyderabad Metro officials, on Friday 2.89 lakh passengers took the metro, much more than the usual number.
So what caused the water-logging and traffic havoc?

Experts feel that rapid, unplanned urbanisation in Cyberabad has turned the region from a fertile agriculture land dotted with lakes and rocks, to a dense concrete jungle with barely any water bodies left.

Areas like Hitec City, Madhapur, and Gachibowli fall under the western part of the city, where scores of Multinational Corporations have set up their offices over the past decade. As a result, there is mass migration for work, and many builders have tapped into this demand by constructing residential high rises for the employees of the MNCs.   

Dr Anant Maringanti, the Executive Director of the Hyderabad Urban Lab, argues that the problem that led to traffic havoc is a man-made one. He says that it is a result of disrupting the drain pattern which was designed in tune with lakes in the area.

He observed, "The constructions which came up in the area failed to indulge in water harvesting and management practices – whether it was households or company buildings." Adding that the encroachment of water bodies has also became one of the main reasons for water stagnation and water-logging on low lying roads, he also pointed out that with concrete dotting the ground, most of the water from the rain remains on the surface and flows on the roads, instead of being absorbed into the groundwater table like earlier.

Dr Vidyapogu Pullanna, a researcher who is working on the political economy of the lakes in Cyberabad, said that the main reason for traffic chaos is infrastructure development without considering the topography of the area. Over three decades, new infrastructure came up in the area without considering 'undulating topography', he said.

"The nature of the area has not been taken into consideration, and the massive infrastructure development is not suitable for this area. There is also reckless encroachment of buffer zones, which has led to the shrinking of lakes," Dr Vidyapogu observed.

He also stated that bunds of water bodies have become main roads in some places. Dr Vidyapogu has also observed that roads which were laid down by cutting across well connected natural streams are now accommodating  water stagnation and logging and causing traffic hurdles.

Experts suggest that a stringent mechanism that curbs encroachments and construction of well connected drains by considering the future needs and population is the need of the hour.

GHMC promises solutions

Meanwhile, GHMC officials said that the traffic havoc happened as the drains in Madhapur locality could afford to take water up to 2-3 cm rainfall, and pointing out that Friday saw 7.5 cm of rainfall within a short time, which led to waterlogging on the roads.  

"Though there are permanent motors to discharge the water from certain stagnation points, the capacity of these motors is inadequate when there is extensive rainfall, which is why there was traffic havoc," said GHMC Commissioner Dana Kishore while overseeing roads that witnessed gigantic traffic jams.

Kishore also said that the construction of cross sectional drains could reduce the water-logging problem in the area while stating that there is a delay in the same as it involves shifting of electric lines which may hamper the operations of IT companies which require undisturbed connectivity.

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