BMC to map probable disasters across Mumbai to help plan city infrastructure
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will carry out mapping of all probable disasters, generate scenarios of their geographical impact zones and magnitude of destruction to life, livelihood, and property at the ward level. The city is prone to 35 natural and manmade disasters, such as tsunamis, impact of earthquake due to the fault line at Panvel near Mumbai, cyclones, flooding, landslides, bomb blasts, fires, oil spills, building collapses, tree collapses, road-over and foot overbridges collapses, stampede, power failures, nuclear and radiological disasters, and even sinking or collisions of ships, or war, according to a list of probable disasters prepared for the city by the Disaster Management Department of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The civic body will conduct seismic microzonation, hazard vulnerable risk assessment (HVRA) and develop tsunami atlas, to help administrative authorities, fire fighters, and builders in decision making while developing infrastructure in the city.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner incharge of BMC’s disaster management department, said, “Many probable disasters are likely to strike Mumbai. Some are man-made, and some natural disasters. Many manmade disasters can be triggered by natural disasters, such as building collapses and fires can be triggered by natural disasters [earthquakes, cyclones]. We are going to map areas that are prone to disasters and investigate their impact. Basis this information, we will come up with a standard operating procedure (SOP) for disaster response.”
A senior civic officer said, “This mapping will be linked to artificial intelligence – an IT based platform – for predictable analysis of probable disasters. This can be used for earlier warning and early evacuation.”
A mini-prototype of this plan is already active for disaster response during monsoon flooding for Mumbai. The system is used for evacuation in flood-prone spots through predictions of water logging based on rain forecasts. It also has disaster response and evacuation plan for residents living along the banks of the four rivers of the city – Dahisar, Mithi, Oshiwara and Poisar.
It has been most successfully used by the BMC for evacuating residents of areas on the banks of Mithi river during the past two-three monsoons. An SOP is automatically activated, and also has evacuation details for these areas complete with information on nearby civic shelters, transport services which can commute distressed residents and commuters caught up in flood to the shelters, food services in the area which have agreed to supply food to shelters, and nearby medical facilities. A second part of this prototype includes tying up with mobile service providers to send out area specific messages to residents living in the vicinity of the spot.
As part of HVRA, the BMC will also study short-term and long-term impact of disasters on livelihood of Mumbaiite and post disaster rehabilitation. In cases where livelihood of people is impacted, predictions will also include how long it will take for people to get back on their feet economically, and what can be done to prevent loss of lives and livelihood in case a disaster strikes.
A senior civic officer said, “The Dharavi, for example, is a hub for small- and medium-scale industries that support the livelihood of lakhs of people. There are many such small industrial areas across the city. If a disaster strikes such an area, it will impact the livelihood of countless families. To prevent such an impact, we need early prediction of probable disasters, and timely response. The artificial intelligence based system will help determine policy decisions.”
This data will be digitally available to the general public as well, to determine the hazard to their plot or property, and take decisions about construction designs of their properties. Once the entire exercise is complete, the BMC will conduct training sessions for elected representatives and locals to identify possibility of manmade disasters, and how to act fast in case of a natural disaster.
Kakani said, “This will also help us convince the public to evacuate dangerous premises. Right now, we have noticed there is a lot of resistance in moving out of a landslide prone area, or a dilapidated building for example. If we can educate people on the impact of such disasters, we will be able to communicate with them better.”
Through disaster response over the past decades, the BMC authorities already know what areas are prone to what disasters. For example, Malad is prone to landslides; the active faultline at Panvel will impact residents of Chembur, Govandi, and other areas in the east; tsunamis or cyclones will impact residents living along the coast of Mumbai the most, and south Mumbai has the most number of old buildings.
The list of 35 disasters prepared by BMC is further divided based on magnitude of impact. For example, bomb blast as a disaster has been divided into blast in a train, blast in a hospital, blast at a public place, and blast in a vehicle. Tree collapse has been divided into signs that the tree or only a branch will collapse, versus a tree collapse, and a branch collapse. Building collapse has been divided into partial collapse and building collapse, along with signs that a building will collapse or partially collapse; destruction of road traffic has been categories as disruption due to strike, water logging, or mere traffic jams.
Kakani said, “The details will help the civic body train people who are first responders, to save themselves and rescue others.”
A budgetary provision of ₹18.26 crore has been made for this project, in BMC’s budget 2021-22 presented before the standing committee by municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.
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