After me the deluge’ attitude has put the lively city of Mumbai on the brink

Rohit Chandavakar
Wednesday, 30 August 2017

‘Après nous, le déluge’ or ‘After us, the flood’ is a French expression, attributed to Madame de Pompadour, the lover of King Louis XV of France. An alternative form, attributed to Louis himself, is ‘Après moi, le déluge’ which literally means ‘After me the floods’.

It refers to the king who creates such a situation that the socio-political environment would not exist unless he is in power. In a sense, the expression exhibits the callous, selfish and cunning approach of the king who does not care about what would happen to his subjects and the kingdom after he is gone!

‘Après nous, le déluge’ or ‘After us, the flood’ is a French expression, attributed to Madame de Pompadour, the lover of King Louis XV of France. An alternative form, attributed to Louis himself, is ‘Après moi, le déluge’ which literally means ‘After me the floods’.

It refers to the king who creates such a situation that the socio-political environment would not exist unless he is in power. In a sense, the expression exhibits the callous, selfish and cunning approach of the king who does not care about what would happen to his subjects and the kingdom after he is gone!

This is exactly the approach of the rulers today who run Mumbai city. Whether it is the people who administer the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or whether the bureaucrats and politicians who run the Urban Development ministry which is supposed to plan the cities development and planning, among all these stake holders, there is a clear attitude of apathy which is obvious. The policy of allowing limitless growth of construction, growth in Floor Space Index (FSI) and unlimited concretisation that has happened in the city and suburbs over the past couple of decades is the cause of Tuesday’s disaster in Mumbai.

The usual defence given by politicians and bureaucrats is about Mumbai’s peculiar topography and the high tide low tide cycle which results in water getting blocked on roads and rail tracks. But a clear observation is that the intensity and the frequency of the flooding of various parts of the city of Mumbai are rapidly increasing over the past few years and it cannot be blamed just on Mumbai’s topography and heavy rains.

The BMC in Mumbai has had a policy of densification. What is meant by densification is that more and more floors will be allowed to be built in the same space by increasing the permissible floor space index on a particular plot of land. So a plot which had a seven or four-storey building 20 years ago is now taken for redevelopment and a 20 or even 30-storey building is built on it by the developer. Similar development happening over the years has resulted in Mumbai reaching a saturation point or in fact crossing it a long time ago. So what we saw on Tuesday was one of the signals which indicate how Mumbai’s infrastructure cannot cope with the burden anymore. 

Needless to say that the allotment of additional FSI being given away to builders by the politicians and bureaucrats is done obviously in return for some personal benefits. The whole world knows how Mumbai’s real estate sector is seen as goldmine by all political leaders from all parties and bureaucrats. When they allot permissions for construction in a limitless manner, they know that the city is going to collapse at some stage in the future but they are there in the position of power only for a term of some years. They absolutely don’t care for the future of the city and that’s the reason their behaviour can be termed as ‘After me the deluge’ approach.

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