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Chennai city is drowning after a single day’s rain. The low-lying areas in Chennai city and surrounding areas resemble rivers and lakes. With Puzhal and Chembarambakkam, the main drinking water supplying reservoirs reaching their full capacity, excess water is being released from the two reservoirs. People residing in the low-lying areas along the canals carrying the excess water have been advised to move to safer places. Rainwater is flooding most roads in Chennai. Water stagnation is a common sight in the low-lying areas leaving the residents in these areas in deep distress.
Chennai residents are afraid of a repeat of 2015 when the entire city was marooned. People are also worried if the upcoming depression in the Bay of Bengal will turn the situation precarious.
Tamil Nadu government is intensifying steps to put the rescue and disaster management system in place. Chief minister MK Stalin has visited the rain-affected areas. While swift action by the government is need of the hour, the government should also have a vision on preventing disasters from happening during cyclones.
The reasons for the disasters and the preventive measures were discussed when the 2015 Chennai floods ravaged the capital city. Canals, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds in Chennai and the surrounding areas remain encroached for several years now. Despite having laws to protect the waterways, no one is concerned about safeguarding them.
Adyar, Cooum River and Buckingham canal which can act as rainwater drains have shrunk in size due to indiscriminate encroachments. Several lakes have been converted into the apartments of the Tamil Nadu Housing Board and the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board. New layouts are mushrooming replacing waterbodies.

Unplanned expansion of city limits, unscientific urban land utilisation policies, development projects without vision can be attributed as the cause of what is happening now.

Former professor of the Madras Institute of social studies S Janakarajan had, in 2015, underlined the need to enumerate the temple ponds and irrigation ponds in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. The sediment of muck and mud in the water bodies should be measured. Research on the low lying areas should be done and a map should be created. A mock drill of rainwater drain should be conducted during the monsoon, he had said then.

Even after the rains recede, we should not conclude that the issues have been solved. There should be continuous action and vision plans. We should keep in mind the lesson taught by 2015.

Humanitarian help was pouring in during the 2015 flood. Volunteers were there everywhere and were involving themselves in rescue operations. Is there really a need for another episode of heavy rain to revive the spirit of service at the cost of misery?

Rain and Chennai

1903 : Heavy rain and flood occurred when the conference of Indian National Congress was held in Chennai

1918 : In November, Chennai received 108.8 cm of rainfall leaving Chennai severely damaged
1943 : Adyar and Cooum rivers were flooded due to the heavy rain in October. Low lying areas were inundated. People in the affected areas were rescued by boats. Rail services were affected.
1976 : When Chennai faced heavy rainfall and flood, the Army was called in for resuming the operation of CPCL Manali Refinery that was affected.
1985: Chembarambakkam reservoir was opened due to heavy rain. The slum clearance board apartments in Kotturpuram were surrounded by the water. Ramavaram Garden – the residence of the then chief minister MGR — was also surrounded by water. MGR and his wife VN Janaki were rescued using a boat. They stayed in a hotel for some time.
2005: Floods in Chennai and surrounding areas due to heavy rain.
2015: Chennai residents face untold miseries due to heavy rain and flood
2021 : Heavy rainfall again in Chennai in November



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