“But We’re Tax-Paying Citizens”: Anger, Desperation In Flooded Chennai

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'But We're Tax-Paying Citizens': Anger, Desperation In Flooded Chennai

Heavy rains pounded several regions of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Chennai:

It’s a mess inside Godwin Ebenezer’s house, as he returns to check three days after Sunday’s 21 cm of rain flooded his home at Chennai’s Periyar Nagar in Chief Minister MK Stalin’s Kolathur constituency. As he opened the door, the damage unfolds with a stink and the sight of ruined furnishing and furniture. 

Although this has been a day-long annual ritual for years, he had to leave his house for three days in 2015 when floods struck the city. Now it’s a repeat of it, he says.  

“So far the governments didn’t address our concerns. We hope at least the new government will do something for us. We are tax-paying citizens,” he added. 

The low-lying neighbourhood is in knee-deep waters. Developed thirty years ago, the concrete jungle stands on the catchment area of a few lakes. During the monsoon, water has nowhere to go. As a result, streets and roads get flooded, residents say. The storm water drains also reportedly get inundated. 

Padma Prasad, another resident, says the corporation doesn’t give much thought to the science of storm water drains. “This requires a scientific solution. It’s not rocket science. We can’t bring back water bodies because of infrastructural development. Let’s fix it,” he says. 

Rs 5,000 crores have been invested to build storm water drains after the 2015 floods in the city, much of it funded by the Smart City project. Chief Minister M K Stalin blames the previous AIADMK regime for a shoddy job as it was in power for six years after the 2015 disaster. 

Reviewing dewatering works in low-lying areas today, the Chief Minister blamed the earlier AIADMK regime. He said, “Shoddy job and corruption are the reason for losses in T Nagar. We have done up to 60 per cent of the work in just six months. After the rainy season, we will set the rest of Chennai right and avert further loss.”  

The Chennai Corporation says storm water drains are not designed for heavy rains, only for the average annual rains. With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, the city needs to be redesigned to become climate-resilient.   

Heavy rains pounded several regions of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday as the well-marked low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal concentrated into a depression, which is likely to cross the coast by November 11 evening. It’s likely to reach the North Tamil Nadu coast tomorrow morning and cross between Karaikal and Shriharikota by evening says the India Meteorological Department.  

“It is very likely to move west–northwestwards and reach near north Tamil Nadu coast by the early morning of November 11, 2021. Thereafter, it is likely to continue to move west-northwestwards and cross north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Karaikal and Sriharikota close to the north of Puducherry by the evening of 11th November 2021,” the weather department said.  

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