Flooding woes in various parts of the country stem from unplanned urbanisation rather than climate change and are a "legacy issue" that the government is correcting through its smart city programme, says Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Cities should have been planned better but that did not happen, Javadekar said during a recent interaction with PTI journalists at the news agency's headquarters here.
"It is not science to say it (floods) happened because of climate change. But it is true that unplanned urbanisation took place in the country. We planned Chandigarh, then Gandhinagar, while protecting and ensuring proper drainage outlets.
It did not happen in other cities," the minister said. "Unplanned growth is also adding to the woes, therefore urban planning is absolutely important," he said.
According to official data, nearly 1,900 people lost their lives and another 46 were reported missing this monsoon season in rains and floods that affected more than 25 lakh people in 22 states. While over 350 people died in Maharashtra, there were over 220 deaths in West Bengal. In Bihar, more than 160 people lost their lives.
Javadekar said rules applied during the building of Chandigarh should have been applied while building other cities as well. "It is a legacy problem. Lutyens Delhi is 130 years old. After that Chandigarh was made... other cities were prepared after Chandigarh. The rules followed while setting up Chandigarh should have been applied while building other cities," he said.
"Unfortunately, we missed that bus. Somebody did not pay attention to it," the minister said.
The world has shown us the way, and the Modi government is now correcting the problem of unplanned growth through its smart city programme and various other development measures, Javadekar said, adding that it will take time.
Javadekar also rejected the findings of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on Oceans and Cryosphere according to which some Indian cities like Mumbai and islands like Andamans and Nicobar are expected to gradually become uninhabitable by 2100 due to the rise in sea level.
"No, the IPCC does not say this. There was a movie '2012'. It was made as many people were predicting the earth will be doomed that year. It didn't happen but the movie did roaring business," he said. Climate change is a reality, it is a manmade disaster created by so-called advanced countries which profited from carbon emissions for years together, he said.
That is why we have the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, the minister said.
Asserting that India is doing its best to save the environment, Javadekar said Indian lifestyle is environment-friendly. "We regard the whole nature as one family. We worship the living, trees... nature is regarded as god in Indian culture," he said.