Thursday, December 10, 2015

Man Made Calamity - Humanitarian crisis caused by floods in Chennai could have largely been prevented

Dec 10 2015 : The Times of India (Hyderabad)

As Chennai emerges from the worst floods it has seen in over a hundred years, the sordid saga of how heavy rain turned the city into a disaster zone is slowly unfolding. There is no questioning the fact that such a quantum of rain can cause havoc in any city, particularly those with lowlands. But the catastrophe Chennai faced went beyond this.Water release from the brimming Chembarambakkam reservoir on the city's outskirts made this calamity a major tragedy. Record rain in mid-November had exposed the abysmal state of the city's infrastructure. 

Even as the city was getting back on its feet, weather agencies predicted 500mm of rain on December 1-2. So government and the civic agency did have time to plan, but got entangled in redtape instead. 

It has come to light that PWD officials had advised hig her-ups to bring down the reservoir level from 22 to 18 feet to make room for anticipated inflow. But this was ignored and sluice gates were opened when the reservoir reached its capacity of 24 feet. This water then spread out all over the city , flooding even areas largely unaffected by the heavy rain.

What stands out starkly , therefore, is the directionlessness of government officials. Delegation of power is almost non-existent in the present autocratic regime in Tamil Nadu. As a result, during the crucial hours when help was desperately needed, hapless and marooned people did not know whom to turn to. 

The Army , the Coast Guard and the National Disaster Response Force stood by along with the entire police force, as there was total lack of coordination between departments in the state government. 

A shocked world was witness to a macabre drama played out on flooded streets ­ marooned residents beseeching help, rescuers unable to reach them, hundreds washed away, party functionaries obstructing or taking credit for the splendid gestures of people from all walks of life who filled in the vacuum in rescue and relief operations.

What Tamil Nadu needs is a command structure that can respond to crises and act in coordination ­ among departments and with external agencies ­ especially in the crucial early hours. This is one calamity that has touched the lives of every individual in the city , high or low. And it was brought on largely by government ineptitude.


Who will  and what action will be taken against those responsible for this?

(Source- TOI Editorial)


  1. False info,No body has predicted of 500 mm of rainfall.For writing and argument purpose we can say this is a human made calamity. But the fact is unexpected fall of over 280 cm in the last two months have battered severely. 139 cm is chennai's yearly average rainfall.Almost double to that happened in just 02 months. Reservoirs had been filling very fast and opening of excess water from two major lakes have caused this .

  2. Dear sirs,

    It is man made disaster 90% remaining due to unprecedented rain for the government is not prepared, some disasters management group have been formed after psunami attack but defunct without infrastructure. naturally formed waterways are blocked by encroachments, almost all reservoirs and embankments remained not silted, hence water bodies are unable to bear the inflow of rain. the government is not prepared and effortless to deal the situation, have you ever heard the chief minister , former chief minister governor bungalow were inundated by flood water, they are safe at the cost poor man's life, they say they are looking after the poor and country. when elections are held all ministers are camping in the constituency, when calamity strikes the voters, ministers are missing why do not they go in person and conduct rescue and relief activity like chandra babu naidu. officials are conducting air survey of burial ground of people