Global Warming and Its Effects in Mumbai, India

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A Paper on Global Warming and Its Effects in Mumbai, India


Present Scenario At A Glance:

Global warming implies enhanced green house effect, which entraps solar radiations, consequently increasing the overall temperature of the earth. The GHG creates a blanket in the lower strata of the earth’s atmosphere and this phenomenon results mainly from human activities. The average global temperatures and CO2 level in the atmosphere are higher than they have ever been in the past. Records show that the last 25 years have been the warmest in the past 5 centuries. Current situation is going towards 4 - 5° C by 2100, which seems catastrophic to scientists for biodiversity, extreme weather or sea-level rise. An increase of 2-4° C may lead to 10-20% increase in cyclonic intensity. This warming can go up to an increase of mean surface temperature by 3.5-5° C by the end of the century.


Fig 1: Current Green House Gas Emissions all over the world(millions of tons)

The recent catastrophic climatic events in India are the consequences of global warming. Mumbai, the business capital of India, is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Arabian Sea level around Mumbai is steadily rising at the rate of 2.4 mm per year and expected to rise up to 15-38 cm by 2050. The city is in a seismic zone and prone to experience massive earthquake or a giant tsunami causing unimaginable loss of human lives and assets. This necessarily means that this would affect the economy of the entire nation. According toa 2012 report, about 2.7 million people live in areas at risk of flooding. Until 1990, the mean yearly rainfall in Mumbai was 2129 mm, which rose by 50% in 2005-06 (3214 mm). In 2005, a catastrophic flood occurred in Mumbai, causing death of more than 5000 people and 26 July 2005 was known as the BLACK DAY in the history of Mumbai since then. Recently, winters in Mumbai have been the coldest with temperature as low as 8° C, when an average temperature is about 18-25° C in the past 50 years.

Issues like the massive environmental degradation due to population growth and ever-increasing built-up areas worsened the risk in Mumbai. Indian urban wetlands have reduced by 30 % in the last 50 years due to the rapid urban development and dumping of waste in water bodies. The situation is even more crucial because of its climate changes due to population density, and its major industrial and financial developments many of which are developed just above sea level and below the high-tide level. This inhibits natural runoff of surface water through the complicated network of drains, rivers, creeks and ponds that drain directly in the sea and during high tides sea water can enter the system and lead to salt water deluge. As a result, foundations of many buildings along the coast have already started eroding leading to a great danger. Approximately 101155 tons of municipal solid waste is generated in the metropolitan region, which includes biodegradable waste, recyclable waste and debris. Improving the drainage system in Mumbai could reduce the losses associated with a flood event by 70%.

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Fig 2: Monthly Total Rainfall over Santacruz in July (1959-2005)

Economic Impacts due to Climatic Disasters:

Though Indian economy happens to be as one of the fastest growing major economies, the climatic disasters are impacting it greatly. According to The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, if the global warming continues to rise, climatic disasters would cause a decrease in India’s GDP by about 9%. An estimated 11.4 million people and assets worth of $1.3 trillion would be in danger in Mumbai due to climatic disasters by 2070. Studies were also carried out by National Climatic Data Center to analyze the economic impacts from climate change. Mumbai is likely to suffer infrastructural losses including airports, roads, ports, rails, bridges up to INR 4,000 crores due to climate change. Studies suggest that losses could rise by 35% for extreme rainfall event In Mumbai. In 2005 catastrophe 14,000 homes were destroyed, and more than 350,000 homes were affected. That year the city was impacted directly with economic damages of almost two billion USD and 500 fatalities. Due to climate change, the total losses for a 1-in-100 year event could manifold by three times of the current situation (to $690 – $1890 million USD).

Actions Taken So Far:

National Disaster Management Authority, The Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Prime Minister’s Office set guidelines for the disaster related issues. Some of the major policies that have been issued since 1953 ones:

  • Ministerial committee on flood control -1964
  • Minister's committee on flood and flood relief - 1972
  • Working group on flood control for five year plans
  • National commission for integrated water resource development plan -1996
  • National water policy - 1987
  • National Flood Commission -1980
  • Five regional task forces – 1996

Consultants were appointed to study the storm water drainage system and to prepare plans for faster disposal of runoff, reducing flood duration and came up with a Master Plan for augmentation of SWD System and submitted final report, known as BRIMSTOWAD Report, in 1993.

Measures taken by Central and State Governments: Structures built to prevent floods:

  • Embankments
  • Dams
  • Natural detention basins
  • Channel improvements
  • Drainage structures
  • Flood zoning
  • Flood proofing
  • Water shed development

Below Government bodies were formed for Flood Management:

  • State Flood Control Department
  • Central Water Commission

The Ministry of Home Affairs has taken the Community Based Disaster Preparedness initiative which works with the help of the local people and the NGOs to help people prepare themselves for different climatic disasters by mobilizing them easily, and providing relief to the affected region. It also helps to prepare the seasonal calendars to predict the climatic disasters, measure the risks for the community and take actions to deal with them. In December 2005, after Mumbai catastrophe, Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, under which the National Disaster Management Authority and State Disaster Management Authorities were created. The Act also constituted Disaster Response Fund and Disaster Mitigation Fund at national, state and district levels. In Maharashtra, the state government accordingly has prepared the Greater Mumbai Disaster Management Action Plan (DMAP) in 2007. Under this, the risks and vulnerabilities have been identified associated with floods, earthquakes, landslides and cyclones. The plan includes specific relief and mitigation measures, Land use planning and policies, infrastructure improvements and contingency plans for Mumbai. In DMAP, measures for infrastructure improvements might require a longer time in terms of the socio-economic and political context of the city. Also, the policies and planning will not be useful and effective unless they are implemented with strategies to deal with slums and migrants into the city.

A fact-finding committee (CHITALE committee) was established by Government of Maharashtra post 2005 floods to investigate the causes of the disaster and make recommendations to reduce future risks which greatly emphasized on measures to improve the city’s drainage systems. The implementation of recommendations included widening of the river channel, cross-drainage work in the catchment area, removal of encroachments along the river banks, solid waste disposal systems, cancellation of license of the polluting industries, curbing effluent discharge in the river and construction of public toilets, deepening of the river for creating green buffer zones, additional widening and deepening of the river, lengthening of 18 bridges and river crossings.

Initiatives taken by central government, state government and local bodies are as below:

Initiatives at the Government Level:

  • Integrated Energy Policy, 2006
  • Reforming Energy Markers (Electricity Act 2005, Tariff Policy 2003, Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006)
  • Energy Conservation Act, 2001
  • New and Renewable Energy Policy, 2005
  • Energy Conservation Building Code, 2006
  • 50,000 MW Hydroelectric Initiative, 2003
  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change: Prime Minister Climate Change Action Plan and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission are major initiatives of the Central and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth and address country’s energy security challenge. The Mission targets to create a policy framework to deploy 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022
  • Natural Resources & Environment Capability Plan Implementation 2008 -11.

Initiatives at Local Body Level:

  • Mandatory rain water harvesting for all buildings
  • Promoting energy efficient buildings
  • Improved waste management
  • Priority to public transport infrastructure
  • Promoting recycle and reuse of waste water
  • Ban on Plastic
  • Use of energy saving led lamps
  • Air pollution monitoring
  • Schools Campaigns for awareness
  • Use of Mass Transit, Car pools
  • Use of CNG instead of petrol
  • Use of bicycle

Specific Projects in Mumbai Metropolitan Region:

  • Mithi River Development Mumbai Metro
  • Design and construction of skywalks in MMR at 67 places
  • BRIMSTOWAD and Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project Priority Works
  • Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link Project with dispersal system
  • Mumbai Urban Transport Project
  • Mumbai Metro Line
  • Bandra Worli Sea Link
  • Dharavi Redevelopment Project
  • Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project
  • Rehabilitation of Pavement Dwellers
  • Monorail Project
  • Mumbai City Development Plan 2005-2025

The state signed a Memorandum of Understanding of two-year study across the state with The Energy & Resources Institute for aRs.97.99-lakh. It will analyze projected climate change impact on services like water resources, agriculture, migration, marine ecosystems and livelihood. TERI will analyze a vulnerability index for all the sectors, impacted from variables like temperature change, sea level rise and the frequency of occurrence of extreme events and suggest adaptation plans for Mumbai to deal with disasters arising from climate change. The study will evaluate climate change impacts on health, ecosystems, markets and recommend policies to cope up with these with changes in land use, housing and urban development. It estimates that the cost of climate change-related damages to the city would beabout INR2.28 lakh crore if there is no adaptation plan for these disasters. Central Government also plans to spend INR 300,000 crores to generate 60,000 MW power.

International Initiatives:

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a New York City-based, non-profit international environmental advocacy group. NRDC's India Initiative on Climate Change and Clean Energy, which was launched in 2009, works with partners in India to help the country build a low-carbon, sustainable economy. Their work in India involves four interrelated following projects:

· Enhancing U.S.-India Cooperation on Climate Change

· Preparing for Public Health Impacts of Climate Change

· Increasing Building Efficiency

· Strengthening Environmental Governance

Ideas to Implement: From Best Practices across the World:

Despite the initiatives and actions taken by the Indian government, global warming keeps on increasing leading the country towards a greater danger. To strive with it, the country should have a richer technical approach, networking and expansive consultation processes at every juncture. Few approaches that might prove extremely helpful are as below:

Land use planning: Assessing corresponding resilience of the city to heavy precipitations and climate change and zoning take the correct adaptive measures. Zoning can help achieve large risk reduction and its methodology might include details in hydrological modelling and analyses on climate change scenarios.

Consistent risk management policies: An appropriate risk management policy would include all measures such as decreased building vulnerability, land-use plans, information and communication to the community, improved drainage, insurance schemes, and support to reconstruction. Frequent low-impact events like the floods occurring often in Mumbai could be avoided by improved drainage. For more severe events; population information, zoning and land-use plans and preventing inhabitant to settle in flood-prone zones could reduce the severity. For exceptional floods; early warning and evacuation are necessity, along with support for reconstruction and insurance to mitigate economic losses. Hazard identification, vulnerability assessment and risk analysis determine where people, property, and critical facilities are exposed to different natural hazards.

Micro-level planning: For developingeffective drainage systems

Anti-erosion measuresat beaches and seafronts

Implementation of theprotection plan: For mangroves and other wetland areas

Introduction ofinnovative building construction practices:Reducing the salt content of new building materials; upgrading of older buildings; and examination of stability of seaside buildings at risk of land erosion

Greaterinvestment: Investments in heath sector, health care facilities and health infrastructurefor providing medical care to people affected by climate change.

Introduction ofEnergy Conservation Measuresat all levels

Enhancement of the urban ecosystem: Creation of more open spaces, greenery, parks and tree-lined roads.

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans and Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plans: This includes evacuation and sheltering, managing the development and redevelopment of land exposed to natural hazards. The government must build dikes to create a barrier against the surging sea and save the existing mangroves surrounding the city from being destroyed further.

Community engagement: The communities should understand the risk they might experience, and also the need to take immediate and long term actions. They should be consulted on a regular basis during the decision-making process to by the planners, engineers and architects to make this endeavour a success.

Adaptive Architectures for Resilience: Adaptable houses could be built that respond to floods, and equally usable the rest of the year. For most of the year, these houses function as an ordinary resort whereas during floods it transforms to provide an alternative ‘turned around’ living arrangement to be adopted. Some international examples also show that the houses could be built on concrete floating bodies. These houses can deal with an increase in water level of up to 5.5 metres.

The population increase and global warming effects in Mumbai will endanger the city much more in coming days. It is high time that Central, State Governments and Local bodies become aware of the gravity of the situation and make necessary policies in urban and environmental planning, where the inhabitants also take active participation to save the city

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