CSSP Electronic Working Paper Series on S&T Policy and Innovation Studies
Meghnad Saha's Paradoxical Story: Railways and the 1922 North Bengal Floods
by Amitabha Bhattacharyya (Department of Physics, Sikkim University, Gangtok, Sikkim, India), September 2015.
Abstract: The destruction caused by flood is well known. The effect of dams and barrages on floods is well documented. However, the effects of other structures, especially railway structures in causing floods are not well understood. In general, railways are portrayed as bearing the brunt of floods, or are praised for helping in relief activities. This article would like to highlight the role of railway embankments in trapping rain water and aggravating floods. Starting from the ground-breaking work of Meghnad Saha in 1922-23, the article follows evolution of understanding of the role of embankments in causing and aggravating floods, and the steps required to prevent or minimize the harm done. The present scenario in the context of rapid urbanization and mushrooming of development is also being explored.