Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Future shock: Mumbai, Kolkata may sink in 2070 floods!!

Climate change could result in Kolkata and Mumbai being amongst the top ten port cities of the world exposed to coastal flooding in 2070, with an exposure of estimated 2.54 crores of people and assets worth US$3.85 trillion. A coastline of about 7,500 kms will be at risk in the country due to coastal flooding that may occur as a result of climate change in 2070.

This has been stated in a global study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) in 2007 on ‘Ranking Port Cities with High Exposure and Vulnerability to Climate Extremes’. The report notes that those cities with greatest population exposure to extreme sea levels also tend to be those with greatest exposure to wind damage from tropical and extra tropical cyclones. The report has attempted to estimate the exposure of the world’s large port cities to coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge.

According to the projections made in the Report, The study also claims that the top ten port cities with highest exposure to wind damage are also among the top twenty port cities exposed to present-day extreme sea levels. As per the Report, the risk of impact from the exposure to coastal flooding can be reduced through a range of adaptation strategies including flood and wind protection measures, effective disaster management strategies, and land use practices

The Government, on its part, has decided to take concrete steps and measures to meet the challenge of climatic change. It has been implementing various adaptation related programmes in the process of planned economic development. Specific measures taken include coastal protection infrastructure and cyclone shelters, plantation of coastal forests and mangroves. Further, in coastal regions, restrictions have been imposed in the area between 200m and 500m of the high tide line while special restrictions have been imposed in the area up to 200 m to protect the sensitive coastal ecosystems and prevent their exploitation.

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which was released on 30th June 2008 outlining the strategy to meet the challenge of Climate Change. The National Action Plan advocates a strategy that promotes, firstly, adaptation to Climate Change and secondly, further enhancement of the ecological sustainability of India’s development path. The Action Plan envisages, among many other actions, effective disaster management strategies, strengthening communication networks and disaster management facilities at all levels and protection of coastal areas through focusing on coastal protection and early warning systems.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From Moon to goons! A tale of fame and shame

This morning, as Chandrayaan took off from Sri Harikota, the entire photographers’ team aiming at the space ship suddenly downed their cameras – no because they were protesting against something, but in sheer emotion! Many had tears in their eyes. “I would be lying if I do not say that I too had emotional tears”, said NDTV’s Raveesh Kumar.

We living in Mumbai (and many of us living here for decades before Bombay was renamed) too had tears in our eyes yesterday – the only difference was that we were upset that our City was burning and Goonda Raj was ruling the roost.

Stones were hurled at Bandra Court, innocent people were beaten up and even those who had nothing to do either with the parochial politics or the divide-and-rule style of Congress had to mutely watch the destruction and disruption of normal life.

On the one hand India was racing towards the moon while on the other petty politics taking us down the drain. How else can one explain the throwing away of hundreds of litres of milk on the Western Express Highway or burning down of a Rs 22 lakh luxury bus? What was fault of truckers who parked their vehicles at Panvel where goondas burned them down under the cover of darkness?

One may go to the extent of arguing that this agitation is also akin to Gandhigiri since the father of the Nation taught us the Satyagraha to express protest. But we seem to be conveniently forgetting the fact that Mahatma Gandhi never encouraged violence in Satyagraha. On the contrary, there were times, when he called off his Satyagraha when it took violent turn much to the distress of other leadership in the freedom movement.

While the police and the government will find legal ways and means to check those who instigate violence and destroy lives and property, it is for us the Mumbaikars to sit up, think and act to see to it that the ethos of Mumbai – the City of Dreams and the City that never sleeps – are not turned into ashes or relegated to history. Let us nip the disturbance in the bud itself.

We owe it to our children, if not to our fellow Mumbaikars, to keep building this City of Dreams. Let my daughters not ask me tomorrow: “Dad, where were you when Goonda Raj started in Mumbai?
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Monday, October 20, 2008

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Wake up call for Mumbai

Mumbai is the happening place! Though everybody says this is one city that never sleeps, many of us do nothing but sleep over our plethora of problems. Take the instance of a traffic signal’s malfunctioning that can affect the traffic flow or the stabbing of a Reliance Infocomm employee who is allowed to die by curious onlookers refusing to come to her rescue!

Where has our sensitivity gone? Why are we getting complacent or rather resigning ourselves to fate?

Mumbai needs to wake up. Mumbaikar needs to sound alarm bells for himself and for others around him.

We all enjoy listening to the famous song – Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahaan, Yeh Hai Bombay, Yeh Hai Bombay Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan. Will you allow Bombay or Mumbai to degenerate? Come, sit up, think and act for the sake of Mumbai.

Let us fight for our rights and write with responsibility. Jago, Mumbai Jago!