In September 2000 Birbhum, Murshidabad, and Nadia Districts of West Bengal suffered a sudden and massive flood, together with other districts of the state. The scale of damage can be judged from the fact that 20 million people lost their homes or had them severely damaged, and many of these people also lost most of their farming and domestic possessions. A â��lakeâ�� 150 kms by 60 kms submerged the countryside, and then moved south and slightly eastwards, doing further damage. The basic cause was a tropical depression sitting over Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal for several days, at the end of the monsoon season, when the ground had already reached field capacity. But the disastrous impact of this meteorological event on the population was undoubtedly amplified by the road, rail and flood-protection embankments which criss-cross the countryside. As they were randomly breached, the floods struck villages with little warning and with great rapidity. Examination of the historical records shows that the problems created by the embankments have been recognised for more than a hundred years. Suggestions are made as to how a new style of development can occur in the future.