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People commute in a tractor following torrential rains in Bangalore on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

Workers in India’s Bangalore hop onto tractors to reach offices as city reels under floods

  • Heavy monsoon rains in parts of India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ that houses global tech giants had led to homes being flooded and massive traffic jams
  • Experts blamed the floods, which have forced many to use boats and tractors to get to work, on reckless urban development in the city

Torrential monsoon rains have flooded parts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore, triggering traffic snarls, power outages and forcing scores of residents to ride tractors and boats to get to work.

The deluge also crippled transport and business operations in the metropolis, known as India’s “Silicon Valley”, which is home to offices of global technology and financial giants like Google, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. At least two people were killed in the floods, local media reported.

With most of the localities of the tech hub still submerged, videos on social media showed workers, including start-up bosses, hitching rides on tractors to reach their offices.

Authorities in Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital, said the city witnessed 150 per cent more rain than usual in the first week of September.

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The state’s chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said in a tweet that “Karnataka, especially [Bangalore] has received unprecedented heavy rainfall compared to [the] last 90 years.”

Bommai’s administration also faced the wrath of frustrated residents stuck inside their marooned homes. Experts blamed the flooding on reckless urban development, including building office and residential towers near water bodies, and climate change.

“Infrastructure continues to be a problem and who do we hold accountable for this situation – the builders who did not account for all of these problems, or the city administration, given the poor lake connectivity and sewage system?” Garima Sehra, a resident forced to leave her home on Tuesday when her housing complex was flooded, told Reuters.

“We don’t think we can go back for at least a week,” she added.


Boats and tractors on streets of India’s Silicon Valley as flash floods bring Bangalore to a halt

Boats and tractors on streets of India’s Silicon Valley as flash floods bring Bangalore to a halt

Members of the Outer Ring Road Companies Association, which comprises major tech and finance behemoths, said in a letter to Bommai that the traffic chaos following the excessive rains had “severely impacted” the productivity of the firms it represents and led to losses of about US$30 million.

The group added the downpour also exposed the area’s poor infrastructure and caused “reputational damage” to Bangalore and the state.

Residents use coracle boats to move through a water-logged neighbourhood in Bangalore on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

The chief minister pledged to step up efforts to stabilise the situation and announced about US$38 million to help pay for the damage from the flooding.

Officials said waterlogging in the worst-hit parts of Bangalore has been cleared, with vehicular traffic returning to normal levels. Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department said more rain was expected to fall in the city and neighbouring areas until Friday.