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SOP for responding to Urban flooding-an overview

SOP for responding to Urban flooding-an overview

Increasing trend of urban flooding is a universal phenomenon and poses a great challenge to city administration and urban planners the world over. Problems associated with urban floods range from relatively localized incidents to major incidents, resulting in cities being inundated from a few hours to several days. Therefore, the impact can also be widespread, including temporary relocation of people, damage to civic amenities, deterioration of water quality and risk of epidemics. The problems posed by urban flooding are quite challenging and aggravate with continuous climate change, with its adverse impact affecting variation in rainfall and intra-city /intra-region disparities in the distribution of rainfall.

What are Floods

Floods can be defined as ‘the submergence of usually dry area by a large amount of water that comes from sudden excessive rainfall, an overflowing river or lake, melting snow or an exceptionally high tide’.

Effect of floods

Floods has multiple effects on human society.  They are as follows.

  • Primary effects like causalities and property loss
  • Secondary effects like contamination of water, loss of entire harvest and spread of water borne diseases
  • Tertiary effects like economic hardship, loss of tourism, food shortage, rebuilding costs, price increase etc.

Urban Floods - status in India

There has been an increasing trend of urban flood disasters in India over the past several years whereby major cities in India have been severely affected.

The most notable amongst them are Hyderabad in 2000, Ahmedabad in 2001, Delhi in 2002 and 2003, Chennai in 2004, Mumbai in 2005, Surat in 2006, Kolkata in 2007, Jamshedpur in 2008, Delhi in 2009 and Guwahati and Delhi in 2010. The most recent devastating ones were Srinagar in 2014 and Chennai in 2015.

Causes of Urban floods

  • Unplanned development and encroachments of sprawling habitations alongside rivers and watercourses have meddled with the natural streams and watercourses. As a result of this, the runoff has increased in proportion to urbanization of the watersheds causing urban floods.
  • New and intensified phase of urbanization during 2001-2011 coupled with spatial expansion of urban extents have compounded flood risk in the urban centers. Area under urban settlements (7933 towns) in India has increased from 77370.50 sq. km in 2001 to 102220.16 sq. km in 2011 showing 24850.00 sq.km of additional land area being brought under urban uses.

The Need for an SOP

In order to check the threat of urban flooding, each city should have their Flood mitigation plans (floodplain, river basin, surface water, etc.) strongly embedded within the overall land use policy and master planning of a city. A prompt, well-coordinated and effective response mounted in the aftermath of urban floods not only minimizes casualties and loss of property but also facilitates early recovery.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a predefined set of directives. In general terms SOPs can be defined as “A set of directives, covering those features of operations that lend themselves to a definite or standardized procedure”. Such procedures are applicable unless prescribed otherwise in a particular case. In terms of disaster management, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions that is to be followed by an organization to mitigate and manage any disastrous event.

Realizing the aftermath of urban flooding and the actions to be taken to mitigate the disaster, there is a need for clear cut Standard Operating Procedures for mitigating Urban Flooding. A Model SOP which is an indicative SOP Document has been issued by the Ministry of Urban Development for the guidance of States and UT Administrations for preparation of their city specific SOPs. The SOP lays down, in a comprehensive manner, the specific actions required to be undertaken by various departments and agencies in a city/town and also organizations under the district administration as well as State Government for responding to urban flooding/disaster of any magnitude.

Objectives of the SOP to address urban flooding

  • To minimize the loss of life and damages to property and to ensure restoration and rehabilitation.
  • To illustrate a concise chart, listing major executive actions required in response to urban flooding.
  • To list necessary tasks for preparedness, response relief and restoration required to be undertaken by the line agencies and departments involved.
  • To ensure effective integration of tasks/events of each department at every stage of the disaster management process and enable continuous coordination of all actions.
  • To enable reporting of actions taken by each agency / department for further review and updating of the existing SOP from past learnings.

Source : Urban Flooding : Standard Operating Procedure- Ministry of Urban Development, GoI

Last Modified : 7/1/2021



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