This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Harsha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Mumbai Is Going To Be Flooded Again Next Year, And It’s Our Fault

More from Harsha

Mumbai houses more than 18.4 million people. The city accounts for nearly 46% of the country’s economy, contributing 30% to income tax collections, 60% of customs duty collections, and 40% of the nation’s foreign trade. In addition to its economic and demographic uniqueness, there is the famous “Mumbaikar spirit” that makes this multilingual, multicultural hub stand out.

And yet, each year, these very Mumbaikars watch helplessly as their city drowns in flood-like conditions and politics is played over dead bodies of their kin.

On August 29 this year, the same tragedy played all over again: The Mumbai floods hit. Almost 20 lives were lost, in addition to the huge loss of infrastructure and the inconvenience caused to the common man. So, Mumbaikars did what they always do: they helped each other out by providing shelter to the needy, cried over the deaths, repaired their broken buildings and waited for the injuries to heal. The national and print media covered the tragedy for a few days and then moved on to more sensational topics.

What next? Should Mumbaikars forget the episode and wait for another repetition next year?

Causes Of The Recurring Floods

For the uninitiated, the two major causes of the flood are the antiquated drainage system of Mumbai and the ever-shrinking Mithi river which serves as the main outlet of rainwater. I have linked an article that was published in 2007. Sadly, the causes remain unchanged and unlooked at ever since. Other causes such as the decade-long delay in stormwater disposal systems, lack of de-silting of river water, encroachments over mangroves, corruption in approval and granting of contracts, etc more or less aggravate the primary causes. The question, however, remains: who is accountable for this disaster and the lives lost?

1. If we look at the civic infrastructure of Mumbai, the BMC is directly responsible for the the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drainage (BRIMSTOWAD) plan aimed at doubling the storm-water carrying capacity of Mumbai’s drainage system. This is a two-decade-old plan, revived after 2005, which has seen less than 50% implementation and an almost four-fold increase in its cost.

2. If we look at the encroachments on the rivers by slums and the blockage of drains and clogging of river-water due to garbage dumps and sewage, the citizens themselves are also responsible for reducing the city’s capacity to drain out rainwater.

3. The forest cover of Mumbai, especially the mangroves, are primarily destroyed by the construction developers and builders. These trees served as the buffer that absorbed the rainwater but in their absence, river-water overflows.

What Can Be Done

What causes these floods? This is a question that has been answered time and again, more so since the fateful floods of July 26, 2005. Case studies have been done, documentaries have been made, projects planned, funds allocated – what not, and still, no change reflects on the ground level. This clearly shows that the issue is not in finding out the causes behind this flooding or planning out a future course of action, the issue lies purely in implementing those plans and utilizing those funds.

Even though it is primarily the BMC’s responsibility to look after the city’s civic infrastructure, the citizens can at least hold them accountable: ask questions, participate in civic discussions, lodge complaints with the authorities and follow up. In addition, they can take personal responsibility to fulfil their fundamental duty to protect the environment and public property by ensuring that our garbage is properly disposed, making informed choices when investing in new development projects, ensuring that manholes near their homes and workplaces are covered, etc.

Every citizen that contributes to solving the city’s problems is essentially saving precious lives and preventing an inconvenience for many. Also, in a democratic republic like ours, the ultimate power is vested in its citizens, exercised through their elected representatives. But with such power also come certain civic duties. Even if the authorities fail to fulfill their duties, the citizens can step up to fulfill theirs and bring about the much-needed change.

Mumbaikars show exemplary resilience and brotherhood in times of crisis, but in order to do justice to their beloved city, they also need to put in some effort throughout the year so that such crises may be avoided altogether in future.

Another version of this article was previously posted here.

You must be to comment.

More from Harsha

Similar Posts

By dr.afshan afreen

By Pallavi Mudgal

By Abhishek Prakash

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below