India’s Silicon Valley hit by floods and power cuts

    Intense flooding has submerged parts of India’s tech capital Bangalore, inundating multimillion-dollar homes, wrecking slum housing and cutting off transport links to offices.

    The deluge of eastern areas of the city in the southern Indian state of Karnataka follows much more widespread flooding across Pakistan, which has killed at least 1,300 people and damaged nearly 1mn homes.

    The disruption in Bangalore, known as India’s Silicon Valley, highlights the vulnerability of even relatively prosperous cities in the region to extreme weather and exposes chronic infrastructural deficiencies.

    Heavy rainfall early this week turned a critical ring road that connects Bangalore city with nearby business parks into a river. Local media reported power outages and the loss of water supplies in some areas. One woman reportedly died from electrocution.

    Bangalore is India’s most important hub of tech talent and the location for offices and technology centres of Indian outsourcing giants Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services and of global companies such as Microsoft, Cisco and Visa.

    “This is the result of bad governance and corruption,” said Mohandas Pai, a former top Infosys executive and chair of venture fund Aarin Capital.

    Pai said the flooding was “a wake-up call for the city government and state that we have to invest more in infrastructure”, adding that officials of the state government who had been negligent should be fired. “The government has to show it cares,” he said.

    Karnataka government infrastructure officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Karnataka’s chief minister Basavaraj S Bommai said on Tuesday that the recent rainfall was the worst in “90 years”. He stressed that only part of the city was affected and local authorities were working round the clock to help those stranded.

    Built around lakes, Bangalore commonly has heavy rainfall at this time of year. But in the rapid development of the last 20 years, real estate developers have built eastward, encroaching on water bodies and compromising drainage systems.

    Bommai, who belongs to the ruling Bharatiya Janata party, blamed the “totally unplanned administration” of the previous Congress party government for unchecked construction that he said had led to the drainage problems.

    Several exclusive gated communities are submerged, with residents evacuated in tractors and inflatable boats. Gaurav Munjal, chief executive of education tech start-up Unacademy, tweeted a video of his family and pet dog in a rescue tractor. “Things are bad,” he wrote. “Please take care.”

    Residents said Bangalore had in some ways been a victim of its own success. Economic development has attracted huge migration, but a city once famed for its lush greenery has been increasing built over.

    “There has been unmatched growth in this part of the country in the last 20 years,” said Sanjay Swamy, a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist from Bangalore. “With that comes a combination of greed and short-cuts taken to try to maximise that opportunity at all levels, whether in the private sector or in the government.”

    Bangalore’s congested roads and often threadbare public infrastructure is the bane of residents.

    “This is probably one part of India that contributes the highest in taxation, both from corporates and individuals,” said Swamy. “But that doesn’t come back proportionally.”

    With more rain forecast, many IT workers have reverted to homeworking. Wipro, a major Bangalore-based IT outsourcer, advised its employees to work from home on Tuesday, adding that it had invoked business continuity plans “and there has been no disruption to business”.

    India’s Silicon Valley hit by floods and power cuts Republished from Source via

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