Urban Flooding in India: Causes & Remedies


Urban flooding has been quite a disastrous phenomenon in Indian cities. The growth of concrete surfaces all over the world is very much evident to us. It is especially in urban spaces that have a severe impact on the environment.  The various consequences of such actions and its outcome is quite visible in the Indian context. The development of the cities demanding greater surface area for urban activities is the root cause of many problems (Arora, 2020). The concept of urban flooding is slightly different from the usual flooding disaster that humans face due to weather conditions. Thus, the basic definition of urban flooding involves a phenomenon where the water gets stuck on the impervious surface. It is also evident in the case where the storm water drainage channel gets either blocked or overburdened. Excessive rainfall in the cities is one of the major catalysts of urban flooding. The growing cities are bound to develop owing to the global trends. But this development must be sustainable enough to cater to various environmental issues. With the approach of having sustainable development, the cities will always fall prey to such disastrous situations.

Urban Flooding

Also Read: What Is The Difference Between Water Damage And Flood Water Damage?

Many factors significantly cause urban flooding issues. Some of them are as follows:

Climate change

It is one of the most significant issues in the current scenario. This global climate change has not only impacted several lives but is also very crucial from environmental aspects. Due to sudden changes in the climate, there are instances of heavy rainfall or precipitation. The frequency of rain has become sudden and intense because of climate change issues (Weber, 2019). The intensive level of rainfall doesn’t find any permeable surface for adding to the groundwater. The water on the surface thus gets completely stocked on the surfaces of the cities. These surfaces include the roads, houses, or buildings, especially on the low-lying lands of the cities are the most affected ones in this case.


With the increase in population, there comes a huge demand for land, house, and other infrastructural amenities by the people. This huge demand is often supplied by removing green spaces and creating habitable places for humans. Further, it leads to mass urbanization in the cities. Another crucial perspective of this issue is the moving of people to urban areas from rural areas in search of better employment opportunities and living standards. These people often add to the population of the urban areas. This movement also creates a demand for more spaces and infrastructure that gives rise to mass urbanization rates in the cities. Thus, by dealing with such issues, newer construction and buildings grow in the city (Weber, 2019). This creation led to the removal of green spaces and the use of cement or other non-porous surfaces. Further, whenever there is heavy rain in the city, these surfaces do not allow the water to percolate inside the soil. All these scenarios led to the stocking of water on the roads and other non-porous surfaces.

Drainage facilities

Infrastructure plays a crucial role in catering to many climatic as well as disastrous problems in the cities. Thus, reliable and stable infrastructure is of earlier importance to the cities. In most of the cities in the Indian scenario, the drainage system is of traditional style that cannot withstand heavy and intensive precipitation. Many urban spaces lack drainage facilities. Big cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad includes an old approach for drainage. In many cities, the drainage infrastructure covers only the core part of the city. But with the growth of the townships, its area has increased widely. Thus, whenever there is excessive precipitation, the existing drains get overburden in the cities (Arora, 2020). Therefore, there is a dire need to include much more extensive and adequate infrastructure services for drainage. Such situations where water gets clogged in the roads obstructing the daily lives of the city people need immediate attention.

Reduction in Green spaces

One of the crucial problems that have engulfed the globe is the issue of reducing green spaces. With increased population and higher demand for land, the green spaces have been considerably losing their spot on the earth’s surfaces. Vast lands of forest, wetlands and other green coverings are reducing at a higher pace. The total number of wetlands which was 644 in 1956, has been considerably reduced to only 123 till 2018. Apart from this, the increasing encroachment of green spaces by humans has also led to climate change issues.

Modification in the terrain system

The higher demand for land for housing has undoubtedly created many environmental issues. One of them is the alteration in the natural terrain system. This type of activity has created an irreversible problem in the cities. To build houses and other constructions, many builders have flattened the natural terrain. Flattening of the surface will affect the general flowing pattern of the water. Thus, by disturbing the natural terrain land, the natural drainage channels get blocked, which results in water flooding. This type of problem is very much prominent in the cities.

Lack of waste management

The issue of waste management is another crucial problem. The waste and its repercussions, especially in the Indian scenario,

are very much evident. The direct waste disposal in the water channels, drains have resulted in blockage of these systems. One of the crucial challenges in this section is the lack of awareness among the people. Although the government authorities regularly organize awareness related to waste management through attractive drives. But the implementation level has not reached its optimal level. The implementation of various infrastructural support must be thorough enough at the ground level. Regular organizations of events like the neighborhood cleaning, community awareness, awareness at the school and institutional levels.


The prevention of such situations could be more apparent through a holistic collaboration between various stakeholders at the city level. The development pattern should be more focused on infrastructural remedies rather than partial solutions. The concept of Sponge cities is in trend as a solution for such cities. The main idea behind the idea is to make the cities more porous on the surfaces. It will help in absorbing the water falling as precipitation (Drishti, 2020). Through this approach, water can be easily extracted and stored in underground wells. This stored water will cater to water supply purposes during any emergency. The use of porous building materials, including water inclusive design standards, improved infrastructure services, implement of policies are some of the crucial solutions for the management of urban flooding in cities. Other solution includes environmental protection through which afforestation, wetland conservation is to be promoted among the citizens. Regular drills related to waste management; environmental awareness is very crucial in creating mass awareness.

Also Read: Urban Floods


The management of urban floods has become crucial with time owing to the current climate change issues. There is a need for collaboration for the vision of a sustainable solution to this urban flooding problem. This collaboration will include the government authorities, various stakeholders, as well as city dwellers. Most importantly, the creation of awareness among people is one of the fundamental guidelines. It will extensively help for the management of various urban-related issues.


  • Arora, K. (2020). Time for a ‘sponge cities’ mission in India – The Hindu. The Hindu.Com. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/time-for-a-sponge-cities-mission-in-india/article32985979.ece
  • Drishti. (2020). Urban Flooding. Drishti. https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/urban-flooding
  • Weber, A. (2019). What Is Urban Flooding? | NRDC. Nrdc.Org. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/anna-weber/what-urban-flooding

Author Bio: This article is written by Annanya Behera. She is currently pursuing Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, and a member of NOSPLAN- Organization of Students of Planning. Her keen interests are on various topics related to urban and rural development.