BENGALURU – Authorities in the Indian city of Bengaluru used tractors on Tuesday (Sept 7) to rescue residents of posh housing estates marooned by floods as army teams were sent in after two days of torrential rain in the technology hub.
The state government of Karnataka, of which Bengaluru is the capital, announced about 3 billion rupees (S$53 million) in relief support to manage the damage from flooding as many parts of the city where several global companies and domestic startups are based were under water.
More rain fell in the city, also called the Silicon Valley of India, in an unusually wet monsoon season, which has brought 162 per cent more rainfall than average since June 1.
“Staff are working day and night to drain out water which is quite challenging … there is no space for the water to flow,” Basavaraj Bommai, the chief minister of Karnataka said, adding that 69 lakes had overflowed in two areas of the city that has 164 lakes in total.
At least one person died due to electrocution in a water-logged street on Monday, according to the city police, while the Indian army and National Disaster Response Force teams said they rescued at least 45 people stranded in flooded areas on Tuesday.
“Things are bad. Please take care,” Gaurav Munjal, founder of the Softbank-backed education technology firm Unacademy said on Twitter after he, his family and his dog were rescued on a tractor.
With city streets submerged and traffic in chaos, many companies asked staff to work from home. Some city residents struggled to empty out flooded basements and shops, Reuters partner ANI showed in video footage.
“Our businesses are very heavily dependent on people on the street – our delivery partners – and getting that sorted is the top priority,” said a co-founder of a startup unicorn, who did not want himself and the company to be named.
Even before the rains, the road and transportation infrastructure system of the city had been bad, said K Ganesh, an entrepreneur and promoter of companies Bigbasket and HomeLane, among others.
“I hope this serves as a wake up call to everyone.”
Environmentalists blamed the flooding on poor planning as the city has expanded and climate change.
“When you start building on this kind of a landscape and you start paving and crusting the area with homes and roads, the run-off starts to increase,” S. Vishwanath, a Bengaluru-based water conservationist told Reuters.
India could expect more severe weather in future, said Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group.
“Extreme weather events are predicted to be a part of climate change impacts,” he said.
Bengaluru’s water supply company said on Monday it would stop the supply of water to more than 50 areas in the city for two days after a pumping station that brings in water from 100 km (60 miles) away was flooded.
As the state government came under increasing criticism over the city’s infrastructure, Bommai said everyone needed to work on a war-footing and that “it has become a habit to do politics over petty things.”
Rain was expected to fall in the city and neighbouring areas until Friday, an official with the Indian Meteorological Department said.