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