The city, which faced a devastating flood in 2005, remains vulnerable to a deluge of the scale that paralysed Chennai recently.
A recent study that mapped the city for disaster vulnerability said five municipal wards in the city – spread across central Mumbai and the eastern and western suburbs — are highly vulnerable to floods and landslides.
The study by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), Monash Academy and IIT-B’s Interdisciplinary Program in Climate Studies found areas spanning from Worli, Prabhadevi, Elphinstone to Santacruz, Saki Naka, Kurla, Chunnabhatti and Chembur, Deonar, Trombay, Govandi and Mankhurd are at a maximum risk of loss to life and property.
“We saw the havoc caused by large scale flooding in Chennai. Mumbai faced a similar situation in July 2005. Any urban region must have a flood risk map. Mapping vulnerability to both natural and manmade disasters forms its major component,” said Subhankar Karmakar, associate professor, Centre for Environment Science and Engineering, IIT-B.
The first-of-its-kind study, conducted over a span of three years, mapped Mumbai’s 24 municipal wards by dividing it into 1kmx1km zones, and will be submitted to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in the next two months. Funded by the union ministry of earth sciences, the study used various indicators to measure vulnerability – socioeconomic, infrastructure, critical facilities and adaptive capacity – for one of the most populous coastal cities in the world.
“Drawing out a spatial pattern for vulnerability during natural disasters gives insight into the problem and is a guiding force for the authorities to handle the situation,” said Sherly MA, research scholar, IITB-Monash Academy, lead investigator.
A majority of the low socioeconomic status regions such as Chembur, Trombay, Hay Bunder, Lower Parel, Mankhurd, Kurla West, Santacruz and Saki Nnaka, figured high on vulnerability ranking. In south Mumbai, a major portion of Colaba, which is socially and economically better developed, showed lower overall vulnerability. The city’s northern end of Borivli was also found to be low on overall vulnerability because of a very small slum area, indicating lower socioeconomic vulnerability, the study revealed.
High air pollution levels enhanced vulnerability, especially in terms of higher morbidity and mortality, in Chembur, Tilak Nagar, Govandi, and Saki Naka. According to researchers, proper planning is important to reduce vulnerability.
For instance, while schools can also be used as evacuation shelters during disasters, any damage to schools during a disaster could affect hundreds and thousands of students. “The advantage of such a mapping is that it will help in prioritising evacuation and adaptation to combat disaster. So any city must have a vulnerability map,” said Karmakar. “Moreover, Mumbai is also the centre of trade and commerce for India.”
The study has not included the indicator of socioeconomic vulnerability such as fisherfolk, population above 65 years, population below the poverty level, rented dwellings, single parent households, and inadequacy of solid waste management because of unavailability and lack of reliable data.
The study ‘ Disaster Vulnerability Mapping for a Densely Populated Coastal Urban Area: An Application to Mumbai, India’ was published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers in September.