11 Things You Need To Know About Hyderabad Flash Floods Today | UPSC

11 Things You Need To Know About Hyderabad Flash Floods Today | UPSC


Hyderabad Flash Floods :

      WHY IN NEWS:

Absence of infrastructure to drain out a meagre half a metre of rainfall led to mayhem

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3 : Floods : Disaster Management : Urban Floods


The answer lies in the city’s old design not being in sync with its burgeoning size and population and the shrinking of its water bodies

  • The City of Pearls is a misnomer — Hyderabad does not produce pearls.
  • Its earlier rulers, the Nizams, brought pearls from across the world, added value and made the city a pearl-trading centre.

The rulers also connected several lakes, as in a pearl necklace, to protect the city from floods.

  • These lakes served as a source for drinking water and irrigation too.
  • In a necklace, when most of the beads are removed, its beauty is lost.
  • Similarly, the destruction of Hyderabad’s lakes exposed the city to floods.


The population of the city has grown exponentially.

  • It is 10 million today, up from 1 million in 1950 and 0.1 million at the beginning of the 19th century.
  • Hyderabad is located on the banks of the Musi river.
  • The Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar dams on the river, supply the water to the city.


  • RUGGED TOPOGRAPHY : The city of Hyderabad doesn’t usually get flooded due to monsoonal rain, which is spread over a long period.

Cloud bursts are a similar example of a heavy downpour occurring in less than 1-2 hours.

  • THE DEPRESSIONS : Cyclonic rain and cloud bursts can lead to urban flooding, which is becoming a big concern for all metropolitan cities in India.
  • BLOCKADES : The natural path of water from elevated areas to lower ground is being blocked by new offices, markets, colonies, etc.


  • Hyderabad historically had small and large water bodies networked in a cascading fashion to convey all stormwater safely into the Musi river.

The topology of the city generates a massive flow for a short duration and the chain of lakes provide the buffer to reduce its destructive capacity.

  • The garland of lakes working in harmony ensured the safe and swift conveyance of water between different points until it entered the river.
  • The network of connected lakes provided hydrological efficiency in flood routing.

11 Things You Need To Know About Hyderabad Flash Floods Today | UPSC


  • SEWAGE TREATMENT : The flooding of Hyderabad in 2020 has little to do with rains and more to do with the absence of lakes, disregard for ecological norms and conversion of the remaining lakes to sewage receptacles.
  • URBAN PLANNING : Smart city concepts woefully fail to acknowledge climate-change impacts in the form of short-duration, high-intensity storm events for draining out stormwater safely to a flowing drainage course.
  • CROWDING RESOURCES : Hyderabad’s economic growth have been possible only through the creation of housing colonies funded by the private investment of the middle class.

The faith and optimism that guaranteed security and protection, turned into deception, leaving several residents wondering the worth of such risks.

  • RE-ENGINEERED LAKES : Unfortunately, the remaining re-engineered lakes are stand-alone units that lack hydrologic as well as ecological functions.
  • INFRASTRUCTURAL PROJECTS : Water bodies occupying less than 10 hectares and their drains were considered as irrelevant and more than 10,000 hectares of land was made available for development.

Critical failures have been seen because of combined sewer and stormwater drain.

  • WATER-LOGGING :Underground, small diameter pipes choked with plastics acted as an obstacle to the gushing rainwater, leading to destructive overland flow and water-logging.
  • OPEN SEWERS : The scope for disconnecting the stormwater system from the combined sewer and replacing it through open channels with grass ways is an option for vulnerable areas.
  • DESIGN FAILUREVisionary thinking, respect for the environment and integration of engineering aspects without themselves turning into a problem is crucial aspect of solution design.
  • REVIVAL OF WATER BODIES : The concept of end-of-pipe sewer lines needs to be reworked, with revival of small water bodies for each housing cluster that will also double up as primary water treatment sinks.
  • WATER TREATMENT : The network of immediate water treatment sinks connected through open channels offers a routing mechanism of flood flows.
  • WETLAND DESTRUCTION : Constructed wetlands at critical locations will help to buffer the floods during storms and in normal times treat the water by removing nutrients as well as serve as oxidation ponds.
  • LETHARGIC ATTITUDE : Reluctance towards flood preparedness and mitigation could be fatalistic attitudes for both, the residents and government.


  • Informal settlements of the economically weaker sections servicing these households have also been affected and now exposed to viral outbreaks.
  • Short duration, high-intensity storms will continue to return cyclically, primarily due to climate change impacts.
  • These will acquire menacing proportions in the coming years, thus risking deaths and destruction.

The Hyderabad floods displayed clear socio-economic segregation, with the least-affected areas held by the wealthy and powerful.

  • At the same time, the aspirational middle class and the economically weaker sections were pushed into vulnerable zones.
  • Such zonations are bad for future investments for housing and commerce.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 


  • TRACING THE DRAINAGE PATTERN : In the short term, the natural path of water drainage from high altitude to a lower one should be traced.
  • RAPID URBANISATION : These routes have been blocked or encroached due to rapid urbanisation, with the city becoming a patchwork of lanes and by-lanes, resulting in larger catchment areas.

The idea is to reduce the catchment area, resulting in less amount of accumulation of rainwater.

  • REDESIGNING SEGMENTS : The catchment areas can be redesigned by proper segmentation of colonies in the form of columns and rows.
  • RELOCATION : At some locations, the existing buildings need to be relocated.
  • URGENT INFRASTRUCTURE : In the long term, an underground drainage system should be constructed to flush rainwater from any place, whether it is at a high or low elevation, till the final place of discharge.
  • RECOVERY PLANS : Recovery plans need to move away from engineering solutions while being ecologically sensitive, democratic, people-centred and transparent.
  • VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT : As the first step in this process of transparency, a vulnerability assessment index needs to be estimated for the different clusters.

Physical location, economic activities in the neighbourhood, natural resource base and the historical land-use should form part of the matrix.

  • INSURANCE : Mitigation measures need to guarantee risk coverage.The magnitude of risk transfer should be made transparent and stand the test of insurance compliance.
  • AWARENESS : The residents need to have a clear understanding of the extent of vulnerability before making any investment.
  • AUDIT MACHINERY : A systematic audit on the performance all flood management engineering structures needs to be carried out.

In most situations, new designs became the root cause of the problem.

  • COMMUNITY SHOULD LEAD : A partnership between local bodies and housing colonies should be an integral part of the solution.
  • APPROACH : The major stakeholders needs to have a bottoms-up approach with every home in sync with the local climate and environment.
  • RISING ABOVE ALL : It is time to equip communities to build resilience to anticipate, prepare, cope, resist and recover from the impact of any form of eventuality natural or human-made.
     SOURCES:THE IE | 11 Things You Need To Know About Hyderabad Flash Floods Today | UPSC



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