12 Aug Sponge Cities
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Sponge Cities”. The topic “Sponge Cities” has relevance in the Disaster Management section of the UPSC CSE exam.
What are Sponge Cities?
GS 3: Disaster Management
Significance of Sponge Cities?
What are the limitations of Sponge Cities?
What are the initiatives undertaken to address urban flooding and water management in India?
Why in the news:
The effectiveness of China’s “sponge city” initiative, which aims to mitigate urban flood risks, has come into question following the recent destructive floods and resulting infrastructural damage.
What are Sponge Cities?
- Sponge cities are urban areas designed to better manage rainwater and prevent flooding by incorporating natural elements such as trees, lakes, parks, and other design features that can absorb rainwater. These “nature-based solutions” aim to distribute water more effectively, improve drainage and storage, and ultimately reduce the impact of flooding.
- This approach involves various strategies, including using permeable asphalt, constructing new canals and ponds, and restoring wetlands. By implementing these measures, sponge cities not only address waterlogging and flooding but also contribute to improving the overall urban environment.
Significance of Sponge Cities:
- This approach introduces a novel perspective on stormwater management, shifting it from being seen as a challenge to an avenue for leveraging resources and opportunities.
- The concept of sponge cities presents an innovative way to enhance water supply by effectively utilizing stormwater.
- Over time, the implementation of sponge cities can contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions, playing a role in the global efforts to combat climate change.
What are the limitations of Sponge Cities:
- Rainfall Capacity: Sponge city infrastructure has its limits and can handle only a certain amount of rainfall. For instance, it might be designed to manage up to 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain per day.
- Cost and Maintenance: Implementing sponge city strategies can involve high upfront costs for infrastructure changes, and ongoing maintenance requirements. Construction activities could also disrupt urban life during the implementation phase.
- Climate Variability and Development Patterns: The effectiveness of sponge city initiatives can be influenced by climate variability, as well as the existing urban development patterns. The success of these initiatives might vary based on local conditions.
Why does India need to focus on urban flooding and water management?
- According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), over 40 million hectares of land in India is prone to floods.
- The Central Water Commission (CWC) reported that nearly 60% of the country’s area is flood-prone.
- The urbanization rate in India is about 34%, leading to increased impervious surfaces and reduced natural drainage.
- A study by the World Resources Institute (WRI) identified India as the country most at risk from river floods.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects an increase in extreme precipitation events in South Asia due to global warming.
- According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), floods account for around 40% of all natural disasters in India.
- A report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) stated that the frequency of extreme weather events, including floods, has increased in recent years due to climate change.
What are some recent examples of flooding in India?
What are the initiatives undertaken to address urban flooding and water management in India :
- Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban): This mission, primarily focused on sanitation, also emphasizes solid waste management and pollution control, which indirectly contribute to preventing waterlogging and flooding.
- National Smart Cities Mission: This initiative promotes measures to manage urban flooding through rainwater harvesting, green spaces, and the implementation of proper drainage systems.
- Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): This mission focuses on developing basic infrastructure, including water supply, sewerage management, and stormwater drainage, in cities and towns.
- Guidelines and Regulations: The Indian government has issued guidelines for sustainable urban development that encourage incorporating features like permeable pavements, green roofs, and retention ponds to enhance water absorption and mitigate flooding.
Q.1 The term “Sponge Cities”, recently seen in the news refers to:
(a) A program to promote eco-friendly transportation in urban areas.
(b) An effort to promote satellite towns to absorb the excess population of Metro cities.
(c) An urban flood resilience initiative involving natural elements to absorb rainwater.
(d) A campaign to reduce air pollution through tree planting in cities.
Q.2 Consider the following statements:
- Home minister is the Chairperson of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
- NDMA is a statutory body.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Discuss the concept of ‘sponge cities’ as an innovative approach to urban flood management. Examine the effectiveness of such strategies in mitigating flood risks, considering their implementation in countries like India.