“It is so good to welcome the rains after the scorching heat of the sun. It brings relief to us. We need rain to grow food. Everything needs rains till the next year when the rains return. It is an emotional, spiritual and natural experience. We can’t trash away this season. It saddens me how it is made into a crisis.” says Mumbaikar Anjan Prakash who has been living in the city for over two decades now.
Prakash is the co-founder of a business with her husband called ‘The Vault’. She is also a Biomimicry Communicator. Biomimicry is the design discipline that teaches how to design sustainably by looking to nature for solutions.
In a chat with SheThePeople.TV she says what bothers her is the disturbing way rains are blamed for everything bad happening in Mumbai. According to her, it is not the Mumbai rains but the infrastructure that needs to be blamed for the havoc being created in Mumbai.
“It is not wrong to design and create infrastructure in cities but it is important to understand the purpose of it and the impact it will have.”
“The amount of wrong information that floats around builds fear among people. Actually, a Mumbaikar doesn’t fear the rain. Generated fear is not actual fear,” she states.
Language needs to change
“As a culture and as a society, it is important for us to change the language of how we talk and convey information and facts. We are not using the language correctly. Every year the headline says heavy rainfall brings Mumbai to a standstill or fury of rains yet again on Mumbai but we don’t realise that this has been the way the season works in Mumbai. It has always received heavy rainfall. Through these headlines, media is not shifting the responsibility back to those who have to own these problems, fix it and be accountable.”
“A Mumbaikar doesn’t fear the rain. Generated fear is not actual fear” – Anjan Keshav
Lessons from nature
She further explains how humans have failed to learn from nature and how it sustains natural phenomenon like rains etc. “Nature also designs and creates. It also goes through the same seasons as we do. Every ecosystem faces winds, rains and it is all managed smooth. We can learn from our own ecosystems in our backyard. For example, Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai receives the same amount of rainfall as the rest of the city but there is no flooding taking place. That is also an ecosystem. Trees hold rain, rainwater is absorbed and there is a clear collection of water taking place, why can’t we design our cities in a similar way?” Prakash asks.
“We are failing as a city every year and yet none of the developments has stopped, none of the infrastructural planning has stopped.”
“Every year so many trees are being cut down in the name of development. Where are the holding areas for water? Collectively, people should own up that something needs to be done. We need to think what is it that we are doing wrong whether it is about making choices about buying things, collection and disposal of garbage, how infrastructure grants and permissions are given. It is time we all take responsibility for it.” she asserted.
“Mumbai has always received heavy rainfall. Through these headlines, we are not shifting the responsibility back to those who have to own these problems, fix it and be accountable.”
The impact study is crucial
“We are failing as a city every year and yet none of the developments has stopped, none of the infrastructural planning has stopped. It is not wrong to design and create infrastructure but it is important to understand the purpose of it and the impact it will have. At what cost is the development taking place? Is it a better way to do it?” are some questions Prakash wants city planners and authorities to ponder upon.
“Flooding is the symptom. Like any human illness, we can’t keep treating the symptom each year. We have to treat the source of the problem if the challenge needs to be removed for good.” she believes. Talking about how the impact can be mitigated, she says “In our scenario, we need to revisit what is the source – and it’s manifold – from losing trees, which are the natural holders of water, to mangroves whose very nature is to prevent flooding, the earth had it all figured out. Each time we are removing something that is natural; we must understand it will come with a consequence. Each time we go about removing different parts of the body, we can’t expect the human body to still function to its optimum. There will be consequences. So, we need to shift from ‘Band-Aid solutions’ (symptom based) to source-based solutions.” She further adds that not just engineers, not just environmentalists, not just architects, not just scientists – but all of them need to come together under one forum and look at the issue holistically.
She also believes that Mumbaikars are sensitive to these issues and try their best to do everything they can at a personal level to minimise the effect rains have on them but the onus is on the authorities to take these matters into their hands.