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Reasons for Chennai rains and future preparedness

The flooding in Chennai is a typical example of combination of human negligence and manmade disaster. It all started with 2015 being the world's hottest year in history, and sea got heated more than usual, water vapour content has increased substantially, during the routine north east monsoon the same water laden clouds moved over land and CLOUD BURST occurred in most parts of Tamil Nadu especially Cuddlore, Pondycherry , Kanchhepuram and Chennai .

The amount of rainfall recorded is the highest in past 100 years - 120cm ( on Dec 5 ) , the same has been predicted by all metrological agencies and NASA and written forecast( about el nino) has been given to Tamil Nadu government prior to disaster , the magnitude of this disaster could have been minimized if precautionary measures were taken.

In the past decades with the growing urbanisation demand for land has started to increase at an alarming rate , a total of 300 inland water bodies have been turned into housing , industrial building , IT parks and it is estimated that 1.5 lakhs buildings are constructed in illegal way.

Higher rain coupled with poor drainage system and improper planning and alarming urbanisation are the main reasons for flooding in Chennai.

Social activists in Tamil Nadu have quoted that “Since lorries have started to run on river beds and river banks, water has started to run on roads."

It has also been made clear that throwing solid garbage on roads have clogged the water outlet during the time of dire need of drainage and added fuel to fire and since minor water bodies like Adyar river and Cooum has never been seen full by Chennai people, slums have come up on the banks of those rivers and have added to even more damage.

Experts say that Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) guidelines have to be followed while laying out proper storm water drainage system and its absence was felt during Chennai floods.

During flooding 30 teams of National disaster management force has been dispatched by union government and army was sent for relief operation. NGOs and particularly youngsters have taken initiative to save and rescue affected people. Some state governments like Karnataka, Kerala, UP , Gujarat Maharashtra have also extended their broad hands to help the city in need.

As the saying goes " Proper preparation starts in planning " ,after rehabilitation Chennai has to concentrate on reconstruction , proper urban planning ,giving importance to drainage system and clearing illegal encroachment areas , disposing solid wastes properly in the way it is meant to be , increasing awareness among people , making laws strict on illegal encroachment and enforcing it without political bias.

Involving NGOs , responding properly to forecast warning by de-silting water bodies , de clogging drains , creating drains if it’s not there , channelizing water properly into a bigger water body so that it can replenish ground water , re checking rain water harvesting system in TN ( TN is the only state having rain water harvesting system in every house as of now )

Future mitigation is not just a work of government alone, people living in low lying areas should respond properly to warning given by government. Cooperation of people with government and bureaucrat’s in charge is crucial in proper mitigation.

It should be made sure that airports and major transport system doesn’t get flooded since they are crucial in getting relief team to grassroots level, satellite imaging and use of GIS in planning can also help in proper mitigation of future flooding.

The current flooding is an eye opener for people and government with proper mitigation and urban planning this scenario can be prevented in future

-Ranjith kumar

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