Monday, Aug 08, 2022

Chennai Floods: 2015 Repeat? Experts Blame Bad Planning As Heavy Rain Brings City To Standstill

The Indian Meteorological Department has issued a red alert for coastal districts in Tamil Nadu on November 10 and 11 after severe flooding in the Chennai and other parts of the state on Sunday.

Three days of rain left several parts of Chennai flooded and waterlogged | File photo PTI

More heavy bouts of rainfall are forecast for Chennai, which came to a standstill due to flooding on Sunday after three days of deluge. A majority of low lying areas of Tamil Nadu’s capital have been severely hit with Nungambakkam alone receiving 207 mm rainfall, the highest since 2015.

"The upcoming low on 10-12 November is a key system to be watched. The time is too short for it to become a high wind cyclone. So cyclone or not, rains across the TN coast and adjacent districts are the threat. Let’s hope we pass this one too safely,” Pradeep John, who calls himself Tamil Nadu Weatherman, has tweeted. 

The Indian Meteorological Department has issued a red alert for coastal districts in Tamil Nadu on November 10 and 11.

Dr Shekhar Raghavan of Chennai Rain Centre says the flooding this year was due to several factors but that much of it was due to mismanagement. The improvement in pipeline supply of water also may also have played the culprit. With residents depending less on groundwater with, the groundwater table in the ever-expanding city did not get as depleted as in the previous years. This caused flooding in the very first spell of awaited rainfall in the city. "The total rainfall was not exceptional but the city got flooded anyway,” says Raghavan, who has been working with the authorities and gated communities in the city to improve water harvesting infrastructure.

More flooding in the city is not ruled out over the next ten days as two low-pressure areas have developed which bring on a cyclone. The low pressure may see heavy showers on November 10-11 and another heavy spell from November 15-17. The scenario may seem akin to 2015, but hopefully, its impact will be less than what was seen six years ago when many parts of Chennai witnessed considerable havoc due to flooding after three cyclones hit the city.

Unfortunately, not much effort has been made by the authorities to improve the city infrastructure to cope with heavy spells of rainfall during the winter monsoon. According to Raghavan, only around 30 per cent of the city has rainwater harvesting facilities as “it is only in a drought year that rainwater harvesting picks up.”