Kaala Pani

Wa­ter is damp­en­ing ur­ban spir­its. What­ever hap­pened to rim jhim gire sawan?

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - An Ecstasy Of Ideas - Sa­[email protected]

Those who as­so­ciate rainy weather with scenes from the film Manzil and Amitabh Bachchan and Moushumi Chat­ter­jee frol­ick­ing ro­man­ti­cally in gen­tly fall­ing rain would have been shocked at the sights of the re­cent floods in Patna and Pune. With cli­mate change there’s need for a song change. In­stead of singing rim jhim gire sawan, we now have to sing pani re pani. Politi­cians barely man­aged to keep afloat. Bi­har deputy CM Sushil Modi was seen silently at­tempt­ing to go with the flow when he donned shorts and got into a lifeboat af­ter be­ing res­cued by the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Re­sponse Force. Politi­cians can be res­cued by dis­as­ter re­lief but what if pol­i­tics it­self has be­come a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

The one time folk hero of Bi­har, Lalu Prasad is now in jail but that didn’t stop his ac­count from tweet­ing and blam­ing the Nitish Ku­mar gov­ern­ment for Patna’s wa­ter woes. In Bi­har it’s jun­gle raj to pani raj. BJP MP Ra­jiv Pratap Rudy waded into some con­tro­versy when he seemed to sug­gest that since Patna is a 100 year old city ill-equipped for so much rain, it’s not fair to blame the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion. How­ever if lead­ers don’t find ways to com­bat the loom­ing en­vi­ron­ment cri­sis, it may soon rain on their pa­rade and they may find them­selves in a long ex­ile gaz­ing help­lessly at kaala pani.

One of the most dra­matic videos from this year’s mon­soon floods came from Vadodara where a croc­o­dile was spot­ted swim­ming through the waves. Some would say there are al­ready too many rep­tiles crawl­ing around In­dia’s streets.

In Pune the flood­ing was also in­tense. Since CM Deven­dra Fad­navis is now re­garded as a highly pop­u­lar leader he could be ex­cused for say­ing, apres moi le del­uge (af­ter me the del­uge). But the ques­tion arises: why are our cities so vul­ner­a­ble to the del­uge?

Even af­ter a trop­i­cal storm, Hous­ton quickly re­cov­ered and hosted Howdy Modi. But days af­ter the rain, parts of Patna re­main sub­merged, forc­ing cit­i­zens to ask Howdy Smart Cities? How can In­dian cities be­come show­pieces of ur­ban ex­cel­lence if they can barely keep their heads above wa­ter? Clearly the smart cities dream has been wa­tered down. Bi­jli, sadak, pani is pro­jected as the new BSP of pol­i­tics: the bi­jli comes and goes, the sadak is one big pot­hole, and as for pani, we can’t seem to get enough of it in parts of In­dia.

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