Mumbai is one of 43 Indian cities amongst the world’s 100 most imperiled by climate-related threats, according to a recent global risk assessment. Like how Mumbai was largely spared by Nisarga last year, Cyclone Tauktae’s impact on the city could have been much worse. These extreme weather events indicate that the climate crisis has arrived. The monsoon, each year more mercurial and menacing, will likely once again involve widespread flooding and damage. To address these challenges, instead of episodic and piecemeal steps, Mumbai needs a range of proactive measures.
Third, Covid-19 has demonstrated how an informed and empowered administration is essential to crisis response. Mumbai must develop institutional capacity so its officials can govern the complexities of climate change. The decentralisation of power during the pandemic from the Chief Minister to the Municipal Commissioner and, in turn, to ward officials will also be critical to climate action. Participatory planning about issues like managing waste and increasing green cover can diminish damage from climate disasters. With incentives for civic participation, Mumbai can create more livable microclimates through community gardens and rooftop farms serving as twenty-first century sacred groves.