Urban Floods

Urban Challenge, Problems and Solutions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Urab floods,Urban challenges and solutions


  • After flooding of major metropolitan cities of Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Delhi following heavy rainfall, the Centre has pointed to two cities – Davanagere and Agartala – as successful examples of cities that have curbed urban flooding.

Why cities are  so important in India?

  • Drivers of Growth: Urbanisation has played and will continue to play a critical role in India’s growth story in the 21st century.
  • Cities are seen as GDP multipliers: By some estimates, Indian cities already contribute up to 70% of the country’s GDP. Yet, depending on which official estimates you use, India is just 26% or 31% urban. But there is growing evidence that India is more urban than is officially recognized.
  • Cities have more productivity: Well-functioning and diverse cities allow for the sharing and cross-pollination of ideas, which in turn drive greater productivity.


What are the Urban challenges?

  • Lack of Planning: current urban planning policies and practice have led to suboptimal use of land in Indian cities. This has multiple consequences. There is not enough floor space for accommodating migrants in search of economic opportunities; they make space for themselves in informal settlements. There is also not enough land in the public domain for developing adequate open spaces or augmenting infrastructure capacities.
  • Lack of Housing:The pandemic revealed that the cities’ economies rely on migrant populations in the formal and informal sectors. Workers in both markets move from rural to urban and urban to urban areas as they find better opportunities; they are mobile and need adequate rental options. Today, in most Indian cities, this demand is not met and leads to unaffordable options, pushing the poorer sections out to slums and other informal settlements.
  • Lack of Transport: Indian cities are infamous for their road congestion; three of them rank in the 10 most congested in the world according to the 2020 TomTom Travel Index with Mumbai ranking second. The existing public transportation systems are already overcrowded and of poor quality.
  • Lack of Public health: Like other health crises, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the need to ensure adequate healthcare services and sanitation infrastructure for a healthy population in cities. In the initial months of the outbreak, the focus of health services shifted entirely towards addressing the novel coronavirus, leaving other health issues unaddressed and shutting down routine care services.
  • Impact on Environment: The causes for low air quality are multiple; vehicular movement and on-road congestion are major contributors. A safe and clean environment is key to good public health.
  • Problems faced by vulnerable sections: The economic shock and work from home guidelines changed migration patterns; workers in cities returned to their home towns and villages. Slum dwellers, with limited access to adequate infrastructure, and migrant workers, disenfranchised from social protection systems or daily wagers, were more vulnerable to this shock. In the medium and long term, it is difficult to predict what the job market will be in cities.


What can be done to address the urban challenges?

  • Future planning is necessary: Manage the spatial growth of cities and allow them to build more planned road networks for future horizontal expansion and revoke faulty policies that constrain the use of floor space to build vertically.
  • Housing for all scheme is important: Focus on providing public housing for the poor; India can learn from successful models in Singapore or Hong Kong and understand the strategic challenges of other international examples such as Mexico. India can also work toenable efficient rental markets
  • Holistic transport should be focused: Integrate formal and informal modes of transportation into holistic transportation strategies to ensure seamless mobility, as well as first and last mile connectivity.
  • Increasing funds to Cities: Decentralise fiscal powers to the local level and train city authorities so that they can make more strategic decisions in health expenditures or public health infrastructure, as well as gain the capacity to raise their own resources.
  • Need of a healthy Environment: Increase the number of open spaces in the public domain, maintain them and monitor their use. Prepare for disasters with robust framework of physical infrastructures, road networks and large open spaces. Build adequate infrastructure to support the sustainable development of emerging Tier-2 and Tier 3 towns.
  • More attention to vulnerable: Develop more systematic identification mechanisms of the urban poor to ameliorate the delivery of public services and social protection. Collect accurate data on migrant population and capture their socio-economic diversity to better address their needs. Monitor access to services, housing and jobs of the vulnerable communities in real time.



  • Urban infrastructure is crumbling day by day. In the next 25 years, cities will have more population than rural areas. Indian cities need urgent reform in order to unlock their economic potential and transform quality of life.

Mains Question

Q.Discuss the urban infrastructure challenges? What are the governments scheme and actions to address the urbanization challenges?

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