Climate change is not just an environment issue, it is a human and urban issue that will dramatically affect everyone. In this context, comment on the impact on Mumbai.

Published: December 12, 2019

A recent report by the journal Nature has highlighted the dangers of climate change which coastal cities like Mumbai face. Research indicates that anthropogenic climate change will inundate parts of Mumbai by 2050. A Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate published by IPCC indicates that sea levels are significantly higher than were originally anticipated, and will have significant impacts on cities like Mumbai.

Cause of concern – 

The infrastructure is being designed in accordance with the future prospects. Planners need to correctly estimate future climate risk in designing urban infrastructure. When climate data is ignored in the design of new infrastructure projects, adaptation plans are never fully in place resulting in mismanagement in times of crisis. 

Mumbai’s ongoing infrastructure project doesn’t address climate change, and may significantly worsen climate risks that its residents face. This project makes the city vulnerable to flooding and has currently been stopped by the Bombay High Court. 

According to the National Institute of Oceanography’s research sea level rise has increased to 3.2 mm/year in the period 1993-2012.

Cities like Mumbai are just a few metres above sea level and unless significant action is taken, the sea will reclaim much of the land. Mumbai in 2050 will look like Mumbai in 1700, unless serious efforts are made to adapt to climate change. Mumbai now is among cities like Guangzhou, Jakarta, Miami, and Manila, which are endangered by climate change.

Way ahead – 

  • The report points out that well-designed coastal protection could mitigate expected damages
  • City administrators need to rethink how Mumbai may be remade in and with rising waters.
  • It demands new imaginaries, designs, plans, and infrastructures.

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