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Flood Prone areas in India UPSC NOTE

 Flood risk in India

  • India isn’t among the 20 countries whose settlements are most exposed to flood hazards.

  • But India was the third highest contributor to global settlements, after China and the U.S.

  • Third — after China and Vietnam — among countries with new settlements expanding into flood-prone areas, all from 1985 to 2015. 

  • India is at significant risk of flood-related problems that could worsen in the coming years if the country wasn’t careful.

  • Its estimated that the Bengaluru floods that year cost the city ₹225 crore. 

Flood risk in India

  • In 1901-2022, the city’s population grew from around 1.6 lakh to more than a crore. 

  • To accommodate these people, the city expanded ,but new localities overlooked the local topography.

Who are most affected?

  • The risks are disproportionately higher for those living in informal structures. 

  • The geography of environmental risk is also the geography of informal low-income housing.

  • Informal housing in cities is on land that is vacant and less desirable, so that they are not immediately driven off.


  • An important reason is expanded urbanization into flood-prone areas.

  • This kind of development is environmentally unsustainable.

  • When environmental regulations are applied to new constructions, they are often applied only to big infrastructure projects and not to medium- and small-scale modifications of localities. 

  • This contradicts the notion that certain localities are more flood-prone and that flooding and flood-risk are locality-level issues.

  • People commonly violate existing government regulations. 


  • Rise in eco-tourism resorts on forest land and the construction of large structures, including government buildings and even religious structures, on rivers’ floodplains.

What is to be done?

  • Scientist cautioned that we can no longer avoid expanding into flood-prone areas

  • Some forms of adaptation are necessary, and they need to differentiate between low-income residents and unauthorized structures erected for the elite.

  • Every city needs to do a proper scientific mapping of the flood prone areas.


  • Urban governments need to make housing in such areas more flood-resilient and protect low-income housing. 

  • riverside settlements that use stilt houses, like those used by the Mishing and the Miyah communities along the Brahmaputra.


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