Flooding in Hanoi: no way out?

TN News

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Hanoi was once again under water after a torrential downpour lasting three hours on Tuesday morning, and three people were allegedly killed by electric leakage during the flooding.

Do Xuan Anh, director of Hanoi's Department of Construction, told the press on the sidelines of a meeting of the city's People's Council (legislative body) that day they had done all they could to lessen the chances that the capital city is flooded during heavy rains in the coming years.

But is the problem really out of their hands now?

In 1998, Hanoi launched a project to improve drainage systems in the central part of the city, based on a plan drafted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) three years before.

Now in its second phase, the US$550 million project is being implemented in accordance with JICA's plan without concerned agencies' considering drastic changes in its urban zoning plan.

The costly and long-lasting project, in fact, is restricted to areas around the To Lich and Red rivers, while the city is being developed towards the west. Therefore, it does not target new urban areas like My Dinh, Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh, Dinh Cong, and Linh Dam.

If local agencies keep working on urban plans in isolation without considering other factors that affect the city's future, or keep developing urban areas without improving infrastructure including drainage systems, as people have pointed out, the city will never escape from floods when it rains.

This status-quo will remain despite additional investments worth a fortune, if the planning itself is skewed.

And historic floods of the scale that killed 17 people and submerged many streets and houses in up to two meters of water in 2008 will also be unavoidable.

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