Why is a metropolitan city suffering from Flooding?

By – Rishab Tuladhar

Infrastructure development is a very crucial part of the country’s development, as it facilitates trade, provides employment opportunities and connects households across metropolitan areas to higher quality opportunities for healthcare and education. Since, the planning of the infrastructure development in Kathmandu has a huge role in determining people’s living conditions, it has caused a lot of problems for the citizens living in the area.

Kathmandu is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in South Asia with an estimated population of 2.54 million and an average annual population growth rate of 6.5%. The city has provided people various opportunities in terms of employment, entrepreneurship, education and health. However, rapid urbanization and the population growth in the city coupled with lack of effective infrastructure planning has led to congested and crowded roads, encroached rivulets, concretization of the city and road junctions becoming a garbage dumping site. The ineffective infrastructure planning becomes evident during monsoon season, when various parts of the city gets flooded due to improper drainage systems 

Why are floods becoming a problem? 

Since Kathmandu has been experiencing intensified rainfall over the years, regular road floods have been a common phenomenon in Kathmandu, during rainy seasons in the said years. In September 2021, Kathmandu Valley alone recorded 121.5 mm of rain on a single night, causing waterlogging in various areas of the valley. However, nobody seems to be prioritizing the development of modern drainage systems in Kathmandu. The city still relies on a traditional form of drainage system, which can not cope with the rise in water and waste flow causing massive floods which will most likely escalate in the future. The city’s drainage system is improperly managed and badly designed. Nobody seems to be prioritizing the development of modern drainage systems in Kathmandu. 

Another reason for the massive floods to occur in the metropolitan city is due to the encroachment of river banks, for housing and businesses. As per the old Kathmandu building code, major rivers like Bagmati and Bishnumati need at least 20 meters of a free floodplain area on both sides to provide the river with unobstructed space, but the code has been violated constantly. Many of the river banks have been encroached to build houses, industries, schools, and many more infrastructures due to the land’s cheap cost compared to lands in other locations. The land adjacent to the rivers are bought during winter when the water level of the river is low, but as the monsoon season hits, the water flow increases and the stream becomes more violent. It starts to not only encroach roads, but also people’s settlements, putting their health and lives in danger. 


To combat flooding, the first thing the government needs to do is to formulate and implement a proper infrastructure plan. The urban planners need to analyze long term consequences such as climate change, and predict unintended situations. They also need to relocate people that are settled in embankments, to a safer place, and provide space for the free flowing of the river. The government should ensure that the building code should be strictly adhered to by the people. Lastly, there needs to be an upgrading of the traditional drainage system, which can cope with the increase in the level of the rain.