When large parts of Chennai were submerged in unprecedented rains recently, Kolkata residents had a common query: Can the West Bengal capital withstand a calamity of similar severity?
According to experts, the Chennai floods were largely man-made, due to the destruction of greenery and mindless construction. Kolkata seems to be staring at a similar threat. Take a walk along the VIP Road which connects the city with the airport, and one can see the canals on either side taken up by real estate firms for building highrises. These canals, thought to be an invaluable drainage system, especially in the low-lying areas, are fast disappearing. At many places, these have been converted into parking spaces and extensions of the road. As a result, large stretches of the city are already getting inundated during monsoon. If the city were to witness Chennai-like rains, the result would be disastrous.
|186 sq km: Total area under Kolkata Municipal Corporation
4.45 million: Population
32%: Percentage staying in slums
4: Number of sewerage treatment plants
8: Number of major drainage systems
5.5%: Percentage of area under lakes/canals
19: Number of current sewerage and drainage projects at a cost of Rs 1,374 crore
Source: Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Economic Review 2014-15