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Climate change and reckless development are leaving Mumbai increasingly vulnerable to the elements. A news report on an ongoing climate study places India’s financial capital sixth in a list of 20 port cities worldwide that are at risk from severe storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds and rising seas. By 2070, according to the study, an estimated 11.4 million people and assets worth $1.6 trillion would be at peril in Mumbai due to climatic extremes.Climate change is putting millions of lives and assets worth billions in port cities at increasing risk, reveals a study by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among the 20 port cities whose assets are in danger from climate extremes is Kolkata, which, according to a news report, stands in the fourth spot. In the City of Joy, 14 million citizens and assets worth $2 trillion will be at peril by 2070. While Mumbai is 6th on the list and faces risk from severe storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds and rising seas. Experts assert that rampant concretization in global cities is not only leading to fluctuations in temperatures worldwide but also causing shifts in microclimates.
These changes together are likely to build up into disastrous scenarios by 2070, effecting excessive rainfall. In cities like Mumbai, where poor planning has left little space for water to percolate into the ground, the impact may be severe. Experts say that BMC must reduce concretization. They say “A big portion of Mumbai is concretized and this is increasing. Solar radiation is absorbed by concrete, triggering urban heat island effect, where temperature within the city rises. The circulation of warm air from the city with cooler air currents from less urbanized areas can cause extreme weather conditions.” Mumbai city’s concretization has reduced the possibility of rainwater getting absorbed into earth and its high population density has put additional strain on the creakingly old drainage system. Another worry is the tower culture. Experts from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute have warned that “With very tall buildings around, sunlight is getting blocked, causing humidity levels to rise, making the city a breeding ground for diseases”. From revamping the drainage system to ensuring that concrete development needs to happen away from the city, there is lots to do in little time. Unless this is done coupled with measures like stronger weather forecast systems and efficient evacuation facilities, climate danger poses fatal threat to the lives and property of citizens living in Mumbai city.