Conservation of Wetlands to Mitigate Urban Floods
T.V. Ramachandra1,2,3,*                               Bharath H. Aithal1,2                               Uttam Kumar1,2
1 Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences [CES], 2 Centre for Sustainable Technologies (astra)
3 Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning [CiSTUP]
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012, India.
*Corresponding author:


Floods in an urbanised landscape refer to the partial or complete inundation from the rapid accumulation or run-off resulting in the damage to property and loss of biotic elements (including humans). Urban flooding is a consequence of increased impermeable catchments resulting in higher catchment yield in a shorter duration and flood peaks sometimes reach up to three times.  Thus, flooding occurs quickly due to faster flow times (in a matter of minutes). Causal factors include combinations of loss of pervious area in urbanising landscapes, inadequate drainage systems, blockade due to indiscriminate disposal of solid waste and building debris, encroachment of storm water drains, housing in floodplains and natural drainage and loss of natural flood-storages sites. Flood mitigation in urban landscape entails integrated ecological approaches combining the watershed land-use planning with the regional development planning. This includes engineering measures and flood preparedness with the understanding of ecological and hydrological functions of the landscape.

Bangalore is experiencing unprecedented urbanisation and sprawl in recent times due to concentrated developmental activities with impetus on industrialisation for the economic development of the region. This concentrated growth has resulted in the increase in population and consequent pressure on infrastructure, natural resources and ultimately giving rise to a plethora of serious challenges such as climate change, enhanced green-house gases emissions, lack of appropriate infrastructure, traffic congestion, and lack of basic amenities (electricity, water, and sanitation) in many localities, etc. This study shows that there has been a growth of 632% in urban areas of Greater Bangalore across 38 years (1973 to 2010). Urban heat island phenomenon is evident from large number of localities with higher local temperatures. The study unravels the pattern of growth in Greater Bangalore and its implication on local climate (an increase of ~2 to 2.5 ºC during the last decade) and also on the natural resources (76% decline in vegetation cover and 79% decline in water bodies), necessitating appropriate strategies for the sustainable management. The study reveals that frequent flooding (since 2000, even during normal rainfall) in Bangalore is a consequence of the increase in impervious area with the high-density urban development in the catchment and loss of wetlands and vegetation. This is coupled with lack of drainage upgrade works with the changes in enhanced run-offs, the encroachment and filling in the floodplain on the waterways, obstruction by the sewer pipes and manholes and relevant structures, deposits of building materials and solid wastes with subsequent blockage of the system and also flow restrictions from under capacity road crossings (bridge and culverts). The lack of planning and enforcement has resulted in significant narrowing of the waterways and filling in of the floodplain by illegal developments.

Keywords: Urban Floods, Wetlands, Heat Island, Mitigation, Remote Sensing, Graduient Analysis.

Citation : Ramachandra. T.V., Bharath H. Aithal and Uttam Kumar., 2012. Conservation of Wetlands to Mitigate Urban Floods., Resources, Energy, and Development. 9(1), pp. 1-22.
* Corresponding Author :
  Dr. T.V. Ramachandra
Energy & Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560 012, India.
Tel : 91-80-23600985 / 22932506 / 22933099,      Fax : 91-80-23601428 / 23600085 / 23600683 [CES-TVR]
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