In India’s Tech Capital, Floods Leave Workers Riding Tractors to Work

Two days of torrential rain flooded Bengaluru, the southern city dubbed India’s Silicon Valley, forcing tech workers to use boats and hitchhiking on a tractor to get to the office. Water supplies were disrupted and some residents struggled to evacuate as India’s tech capital joined the list of places in South Asia flooded this monsoon season.

More than 5 inches of rain fell on Monday, leaving large parts of Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore, under water.

The flood in Bengaluru, where dozens of multinational companies had office towers and uprooted trees, caused prolonged power cuts and forced businesses to issue work-from-home orders. The downpours continued through Tuesday and rain is forecast for the next four days, according to the India Meteorological Department.

At least one death has been recorded, in which a 23-year-old woman was electrocuted after her motorcycle skidded on a flooded road and she tried to cling to a power pole for assistance.

In parts of the city, water services were suspended after pumping stations flooded. Basavaraj Bommai, the top elected official in Karnataka, the capital of Bengaluru, said affected areas would be supplied with water from a borehole or a tank truck.

Satish D., a businessman who lives in a neighborhood in east Bengaluru, said his building was completely dilapidated on Tuesday and had no electricity, and residents were running out of food and water.

He said dozens of families in his neighborhood, known as Villas, were trapped, with some being forced to hire tractors to evacuate after their appeal to local government officials. not answered.

“Everybody is stuck in their house and the tractor can’t go everywhere,” he said. “We need a boat to rescue people, but we don’t have them.”

Vishwanath Srikantaiah, a water conservation and urban planning expert, said flooding was worse in newer parts of the city built on flat terrain.

Flooding is partly a by-product of paving the swampy areas around many of the lakes in Bengaluru, which have historically absorbed some of the rain, and a half-century-old sewer upgrade clogged by garbage and other debris has failed.

“A million cuts added up, and then it turned into a perfect storm with continuous rainfall,” Mr. Srikantaiah said. “Over time, governments have taken small steps, which are bad decisions.”

He said one solution, which has been discussed for a long time, is to call on the government to develop a long-term plan for stormwater management and a strong investment in the sewer system.

Such a plan would take years to implement and successive governments have paid a heavy price. But on Tuesday, Bommai, the official, said the state would spend about $225,000 on the more immediate task: draining water out of the city and clearing debris that’s choking the city’s sewage system.

A leader of the state’s political opposition used the disaster to criticize the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, for failing to spend on infrastructure.

“Has the BJP government that prided itself on making Bengaluru a world-class city with modern amenities, have it forgotten now? Who built the weak infrastructure in a world-class city? ” the head of the Congress party in Karnataka, DK Shivakumar, wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Bommai, in turn, blamed the Parliament-led government that preceded him for allowing the development of the city’s floodplains.

The city’s heavy rainfall this week is part of the a broader trend of climate devastation across South Asia. Unending heat in northern India and Pakistan this spring, with temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius or more for days, has killed dozens of people, led to floods from melting Himalayan ice and caused crop failures. , contributing to global food shortages.

In northern and northeastern India, the monsoon comes late and recedes quickly, while other parts of the country are inundated with unseasonal rains. In Pakistan, incessant rain has contributed to flooding has killed more than 1,300 people and left large parts of the country underwater.

Rising temperatures and erratic monsoons are deepen the challenges on poverty, food security, health and governance across South Asia.

Even in Bengaluru, one of the region’s most prosperous cities, residents are struggling to cope. Across the city, rainfall at this time of year is at least twice the average for previous years.

The 5.2 inches of rain the city recorded on Monday was the heaviest of any September day in eight years.

Shivangi Sharma Sasi, a Bangalore resident, said that after days of heavy rain, anxiety was brewing, and she and others had started stocking up on bottled water.

“There was panic and fear among people,” she said. “And people have started hoarding food items.”

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