Loads of lessons from latest round of Chennai flooding

Chennai and other coastal districts of Tamil Nadu have taken the brunt of another intense spell of rainfall during the last few days and many places were inundated.

Published: 13th November 2021 06:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2021 04:19 PM   |  A+A-

Chennai rains, flooded road

How to navigate this flooded road at Kannigapuram near KK Nagar in Chennai? Do you find the cycle better or will you rather want to hop into a car? (Photo | Martin Louis, EPS)

Chennai and other coastal districts of Tamil Nadu have taken the brunt of another intense spell of rainfall during the last few days and many places were inundated. Comparing it with the 2015 deluge may be inapposite, but the incessant rains and heavy winds brought back without fail the haunting memories to many. It is definitely worth mentioning that this time around, various government agencies and municipal corporations were much better prepared and on their toes, bringing help to the thousands of people suddenly immobilised by the rains.

Though electricity and water supply issues remain to be sorted out in many areas that are still under water, the agencies were swift to evacuate people marooned by the sudden surge. It was heartening to see how the Chennai Corporation’s common kitchens served up pongal, upma and other dishes and kept the urban poor from going hungry. The death toll of 18 from across the state was way below 174 reported during the 2015 rains. A regulated release of water from dams and other resources around Chennai kept the city from excessive flooding. 

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However, there are many lessons that need to be learnt. The New Indian Express has reported several instances of encroachments along the banks of the Adyar and Cooum rivers. Government agencies and private players have also encroached upon the Ennore-Kosasthalaiyar basin, which protects residents of north Chennai by taking in huge amounts of flood water. The government needs to bring in effective measures to protect whatever is left of this fragile ecosystem.

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It should also consider adopting green solutions to address flooding. Rainwater harvesting needs to be made mandatory for all new real estate projects and individual houses. All existing water bodies and temple tanks can be deepened and desilted so as to retain more water. While the new stormwater drains have helped bring down the water levels quickly in several places, they seem to defy natural gradients in other areas. A scientific review should be carried out to address the problem. 


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