ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Epidemic of Urban Floods

Politics, Development and Ecology

Through a study of floods in the city of Nashik, this article highlights the need to understand urban floods not only as an ecological disturbance produced due to anthropogenic factors, but also as an occurrence within a sociopolitical space.

Apart from meteorological and hydrological factors, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India considers encroachment of the natural streams and watercourses due to rapid urbanisation as a major factor contributing to urban flooding (NDMA 2010). The encroachment, here, is a planning lexicon which is often equated with illegality and directed towards slum dwellers occupying waterways in cities (Ramanathan 2005). Since 2016, I have been conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Nashik, exploring the urban political ecology of the Godavari riverscape in the city, which involved collecting narratives of the environmental activists/groups working for the Godavari, as well as of people living along the banks of the river, in order to understand public perception of the implemented and proposed vision of the Godavari riverfront development. For instance, during the recent episode of flooding in Nashik (Deccan Herald 2017), one of my respondents, a resident of the city, while describing the nature of the flood suggested

The construction activities are sneaking upon the floodplain and shrinking it, and we are terming it as development. But since past few years in Nashik, the Godavari floods are uprooting such infrastructures obstructing her flow. It seems mother Godavari herself has taken the responsibility of alleviating the encroachment in her floodplain. These developmental encroachments, during the flooding, are increasing the water level in the low-lying areas of the old Nashik city, severely impacting the lives of inhabitants there. Thus, the administration should soon realise their ignorance towards Godavari, to reduce her wrath.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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