Are we going back in time? Is it 2015 again? It does feel like it.
Cyclone Michaung has wreaked havoc in Chennai over the past 24 hours. Homes are flooded, there is no electricity, cars are floating on our streets and 5 people have died.
Having 121 multipurpose centers, 4967 relief camps and 14 Disaster Response Force teams are all band-aid solutions. It clearly showcases short term thinking. This is not what ‘preparedness’ means.
The 2015 floods killed 300 people. The 2015 floods were a ‘man-made’ disaster and so is this one.
What is it going to take for the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Tamil Nadu government to take this seriously?
Over the years, large scale encroachment on lakes and river floodplains has led to massive destruction. Lakes, rivers and marshlands need to be managed and conserved. However, indiscriminate development on our natural resources continues now in 2023.
Over the last 15 years, Rs.16,000 crore has been spent on storm water drains related infrastructure, but the results are yet to be seen and it doesn’t seem to have made a difference yet. But who is paying the price for the lack of planning in storm water drain construction and corrupt practices? The Chennai residents.
In 2018, Tamil Nadu government’s Revenue Minister RB Udhaya Kumar said "We have taken a number of mitigation and preparedness initiatives like setting up a special disaster management force like the police and training first responders. Tamil Nadu is safe. Encroachments are there I agree. We can't do anything about it overnight. It is a continuous process."
Not overnight, but even five years since not much has changed.
It is clear that we haven’t learned anything from the devastating floods in 2015. Chennai is losing it’s natural drainage systems to rapid urbanisation. Climate change is only exacerbating the situation. We can’t keep hiding behind climate change and wash our hands off of the issue. We need to hold our decision makers accountable for this mess.
Join the campaign today urging the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Tamil Nadu government to present plans for clear, long term, innovative and technical solutions.
We cannot possibly fight nature’s fury and the havoc it will create if we don’t rectify our mistakes and let our water bodies flourish so we can too.
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