Here is an essay on the ‘Chennai Flash Floods’ for class 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Chennai Flash Floods’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Chennai Flash Floods
Chennai, India had experienced record-breaking rains and flooding since early November. Beginning on 1 December, the rain intensified again creating more flooding and causing thousands of people to be stranded and trapped. An estimated 188 people had died, and over 200,000 had been displaced. Earlier in the week 3500 were stranded at Chennai Airport. Recent reports estimate it to be approximately 700.
The airport was closed until 6 December, and Rajali Naval Air Station 70 km away will operate as a civilian airport temporarily. Over 5,207 roads are flooded according to a crowd sourced map, 23 trains had been cancelled, and voice lines and ATM’s are down throughout the area. Those that do have phone signal, were losing battery with no way to charge. As of 2 December, 60% of Chennai City was without power.
Chennai City has also started releasing 20,000 cubic feet per second of water from Chembarambakkam reservoir into Adyar. A flood warning has been issued, and families along the Adyar River have been told to move to safer places. The state government had also mobilized fishing boats to assist in rescue and relief.
22 NDRF rescue teams had been deployed to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Indian Army and Air Force had also deployed personnel and helicopters and have been conducting rescue and relief operations.
The Chennai floods have thrown up some fundamental flaws in our system of urban planning. Across India, city after city has experienced floods, while some others live with the fear of impending disasters. In Mumbai, flooding was caused by wrong developments at the Bandra estuary and negligence along the Mithi river, and in Uttarakhand the disaster was caused by unplanned regional development and the unholy nexus between the land mafia and politicians.
The Srinagar valley suffers from an unfortunate geographical disadvantage of being the recipient of water from an enormous watershed above the valley. Meanwhile, in Delhi, the two governments are merrily building on the city’s flood plains, ignoring the ministry of environment, which is supposed to protect the Delhi Ridge and the Yamuna river. Calcutta’s new growth is entirely in the wetland area, creating multiple infrastructure barriers for surface water flow from the mother city, which in any case has a lower elevation than the Hooghly river.
In the past decades, Bangalore’s expansion had been at the cost of an elaborate pond system in the sub-region, a majority of the scattered ponds being built upon by land sharks. The Bruhat Bangalore Development Plan came too late, while artificial land values were created by project-driven infrastructure. In other words, all our metropolitan cities have ignored watershed management and environmental planning to their own peril.
This is the juncture in India’s urbanisation when thousands of crores are being poured into the urban centres, coupled with a policy shift in the Environmental Impact Assessment in order to facilitate ‘growth’ for easing the sanction process. All these are also ‘Smart Cities’, ‘AMRUT Cities’ and investment destinations for ambitious metro projects and they are identified as new growth centres of our ‘surging’ economy.
In the absence of a proper National Policy for Urbanisation, our metropolitan cities are sitting ducks for all sorts of natural disasters. Spineless local planning organisations, which are subservient to their administrative and political masters, are not willing to put their technical know-how on the table, for fear of punishment transfers and mafia-induced pressures.
The Chennai floods show all these problems can surface in other Indian cities. The geography of South India demonstrates how rivulets, ponds, streams and rivers emanating from the Eastern Ghats flow towards the East to the Tamil Nadu coast. On the other hand, this coast is also highly vulnerable to storms, depression, tsunami and floods.
Chennai is one such area where an enormous watershed finally drains into the sea through its rivers and canals. Has any regional planning exercise recognised this primary natural layer on which urban development forms the secondary layer? No. On the contrary, the watershed on the west of Chennai has been the major venue for industrialisation in corridors going up to Kanchipuram further to the west.
Traditionally the sub-region surrounding Chennai had big and small ponds connected by a working overflow system. The water was allowed to spread into fields and thousands of smaller ponds, with the entire region acting as a ‘sponge’ to absorb the excess water, supporting paddy fields and fish farming. These overflow systems and multiple canals finally find their way to lakes that surround Chennai city. Finally the rivers in Chennai absorb this flow.
In Tamil Nadu’s hurry to industrialise, these watershed areas have been ravaged, with all the major industries, new educational institutions, housing estates, etc., coming up in the past two decades. Thousands of smaller ponds and streams have been filled up, increasing the surface water flow manifold.
The major tanks are silted and the amount of water flowing into them has increased. This increased run-off has found its way into the city. Unprecedented rain, induced by climate change, has compounded the problem. While the disaster has been caused by nature, the impact would not have been so severe but for the man-made factors.
The second dimension of Chennai’s flood is another man-made (read planning-made) problem. The Adyar river in the south of the original city had a wide estuary and also a wide flood plain. Many areas south of the river have been marshy and low-lying, serviced by small rivulets and canals.
Most submerged areas with floor-high water are on this part of the city, including the IT Park and many multinational corporate headquarters, paralysing business not only in Chennai but across the country and outside.
All the swamps, marsh lands, low-lying areas and streams that these big corporations, middle class housing and slums have built on are inundated as they are at the receiving end of overflowing large regional tanks.
The planned developments along the Adyar river that reduced its capacity as a water outlet are largely government-sponsored as the river bed was in government ownership. In the past three decades, massive housing, planned and unplanned, has cannibalised the river bed, leading to increased flooding, and damaged Chennai’s technology nerve centres and put millions of residents in danger.
Chennai is indeed a sordid story of all the ills that plague India’s subservient planning system. Our inability to enforce environmental laws and insatiable greed for land grabbing by both national and international commercial interests are in full play in Chennai. The silver lining, however, is the enormous outflow of altruism, public mindedness and compassion Chennai’s citizens have displayed in the face of this calamity.
Pinning responsibility for faulty planning and political decisions, preparing a scientific watershed management plan, putting in place a disaster warning system, and addressing the immediate problems of the urban poor are the first steps forward. Chennai’s citizens have a resurgent spirit. That indeed is the human capital to build on.
Chennai Floods are Made in Chennai Only:
The recent images of the flooding in Chennai on social media were scary and show us how badly our cities are messed up. There were, of course, hundreds of images, as everyone turned newsmen and captured the agony and pain of hundreds of Chennai ties on their mobile phones. The story that each picture, be it of students of Satyabama University coming out on a boat or of buses submerged in a subway, is one that screams, “You asked for it!” Now let’s look at this rationally.
The North East monsoon which brings rain to Chennai during the winter months is not always bountiful. In fact, weathermen agree that it is only once is ten years that Chennai gets enough rain to flood the city. The rest of time, people pray for rain as groundwater levels deplete and water trucks whizz around delivering water to apartment complexes, villas and tenements. But last week it was different.
In the first 24 hours the city received 246 mm of rainfall breaking the 1976 record when Madras (as the city was called then) received 452 mm of rain. On November 23, however, Chennai ties had a really raw deal. The rain came down in buckets and brought the city to its knees.
Commutes which normally take about 25 minutes took hours, mainly because the roads were flooded and people panicked because of the rumours spread by social media that a lake had breached. At 8.30 pm, the rain gauge at Meenambakkam recorded 97 mm of rain and Nungambakkam recorded 92 mm. Those of us who loved the city see what a mess Chennai has become and are saddened.
Some years ago, at seminars, wise men pontificated of the dangers of building the Mass Rapid Transit System on the Buckingham Canal, of constructions on the Pallikaranai marshlands and of locating the Information Technology corridor on a water body. But the constructions continued nevertheless. Gated communities as well as special economic zones have come up in areas which should have been catchments areas.
Temple tanks which refueled the groundwater through centuries have been concreted. Tenements and apartment complexes have come up on the flood plains of the rivers. Take the case of Ponneri, a small town located in the Chennai Metropolitan Area and one designated to be a Smart City. Ponneri received 370 mm of rain, almost 100 mm more than Chennai city. Construction is ongoing with no particular attention paid to drainage. Pulicat and Ennore are sad stories.
The unique eco system with mangroves and intertidal zones will all be a thing of the past. Pulicat is also of historical value. But who cares? Residents of Chennai have experienced real misery as every suburb and subway turned into waterways. A disastrous cocktail of sewerage and rainwater entered homes bringing with it promises of deadly disease, snakes and scorpions.
In many parts of South Chennai, the water was almost five feet in depth, especially those which have been constructed on marshes and swamps. Experts point out the Second Master Plan by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has paid no attention to hydrology. The National Institute of Disaster Management reports that in Chennai, 650 water bodies, which include lakes, ponds, and storage tanks, have been destroyed. Today, sadly, there are just 27 water bodies.
The worst news is that the city has only 855 km of storm drains for the 2,847 km of roads. Another tragedy is the fact that there is no storage infrastructure to harvest the rainwater. What makes this a tragedy is that Tamil Nadu is drought prone and has an ongoing quarrel with neigbouring states for water.
The main cause, however, for the flooding has been the blatant disregard for ecology by the caucus of politicians, civil servants and developers. Swamps and wet lands such as Pallikarani have been reclaimed to accommodate high rise buildings. The case in point is of Taramani and Velachery, two areas which are waterlogged in the event of rain.
Phoenix Mall, the largest mall in Chennai, is on a lake bed! More alarm bells are ringing. The Chennai floods could be the consequence of climate change, opines one expert. If it is so there is a need to make, not just Chennai, but all our cities more resilient to climate change.
Loss to the Different Sectors:
Of the estimated Rs. 15,000 crore losses due to the recent devastating floods in Chennai, coastal Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring Puducherry, MSMEs bore the maximum brunt of about Rs. 1,700 crore, says a report.
“On a most conservative side, MSME sector has lost nearly Rs. 1,700 crore to the calamity in just two peak weeks of the flooding,” — SMERA Ratings lead economist, Karan Mehrishi.
This is a very conservative estimate and the actual financial losses in terms of lost opportunities and job losses could be much higher, he added. Various analysts have pegged the overall loss to the industries in the region at over Rs. 15,000 crore from the month-long floods which had even forced the airport and the railways to shut operations for nearly a week.
City-based SMERA Ratings is a joint initiative of Sidbi and some state-run banks, and the private sector financial advisor Dun and Bradstreet Information Services India. He also said that this Rs. 1,700 crore projected loss is only from the manufacturing side and if services are included, the damages could be much higher.
“The impact of the floods has serious ramifications on not only the local economy but also national economy as the Chennai metropolitan region’s manufacturing economy is worth Rs. 1,51,800 crore or around 3% of the national GDP, Mehrishi said.
The loss figure has been arrived at after calculating the weekly loss in lost businesses for the micro and small industrial sector, which bore the brunt of the killer floods at nearly Rs. 840 crore, he added.
This makes the annual size of the Chennai metropolitan region’s MSME manufacturing GDP at around Rs. 21,500 crore. According to SMERA analysis, seven major MSME categories of industry and industrial services in the region, were hit the most due to the floods.
i. The leather sector bore the maximum losses with estimated damages of over Rs. 380 crore, followed by gold and jewellery sector at Rs. 237 crore, auto components at Rs. 105 crore, printing sector at Rs. 37.50 crore, Mehrishi said.
ii. The next in line of losses is the plastics sector which is estimated to have lost Rs. 35 crore, followed by IT related services at over Rs. 33 crore, garments at Rs. 10 crore and pharmaceuticals (Ayurveda and Siddha) at Rs. 1.25 crore.
iii. There are an estimated 36,000 MSMEs registered in the Chennai region and the agency has analysed a sample size of nearly 20,000.
Among the large contributors, auto-components and related businesses contribute 28% to the region’s economy. It can be recalled that a slew of automakers like BMW, Ford, Nissan, Renault, Royal Enfield, Hyundai, Ashok Leyland, among others, have given Chennai the moniker of Detroit of the East. IT and related services come second with a contribution of 17%, gold about 8%, leather at 6.4%, printing at 4.2% and garments at 3.27%, respectively.
On individual loss of the city’s citizens, the per capita loss stood at nearly Rs. 2,530 in terms of potential income loss with every week foregone. The foregone income is nearly 2% of potential per capita income of the region, Mehrishi said. On a national scale, the losses incurred by Chennai’s industrial sector can potentially shave off 0.07% from the national industrial gross value added (GVA), he added.
The nearly month-long unseasonal rains marooned the industrial belts of Chennai, mostly Kancheepuram and Tiruvallore, in November and December. The Chennai region houses 36,869 factories and employs some 16 lakh people. As per the estimates of the Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA), nearly 50,000 jobs were lost due to the rains as areas remained marooned for days and many left for their native districts. “Chennai is the hub for micro, small and medium enterprises. Some 10,000 units have suffered losses and about 50,000 people have lost their jobs due to the floods,” said a TANSTIA official.
Summary of Loss to the State:
(a) Losses due to Flood:
The state has experienced a substantial loss due to their sitting duck behaviour despite of the fact knowing that similar kind of rain is the past. But no preparedness had been planned for future to save guard the citizens from such kind of disaster and ultimately result is there.
1. Preliminary flood damage is Rs. 8481 cr.
2. Loss of Rs. 100000 cr. has been estimated
3. Over 60,000 hectares of farmland has been destroyed
4. CM Jayalalithaa requested PM Narendra Modi to declare the flooding as a “national calamity”
5. CM has asked central government for financial aid of Rs. 2000 cr.
(b) Effects of Flood in Chennai:
1. Road vanished
2. Water in house
3. House destroyed
4. Around 400 have died and over 18 lakh people were shifted to safe place
5. Colleges, schools and markets were closed
6. More rain due to low pressure in Bay of Bengal
1. City recorded a whopping 1218.6 mm of rain in November
2. On December 1, Chennai has received a record breaking 272 mm of rainfall in 12 hrs
3. The city’s normal rainfall for December stands at 191 mm
4. Chennai broke over a 100 year old 24 hour rainfall record
5. On December 10, 1901, Chennai had recorded 261.6 mm rainfall in a span of 24 hours
6. Chennai broke monthly rainfall record of December 1910.
(d) New Constructions in Chennai:
With the strong desire to build the state, still the unplanned construction in the hazards prone area is being allowed by the administration without the clearance of the projects from the various departments.
The details of the above are as follows:
1. New constructions have popped up all round the city like mushroom
2. New airport is being constructed in Chennai in the basin of Adyan River in Chennai
3. A bus terminal is being constructed in the flood prone area of Koyambedu
4. MRTS (Mass rapid transit system) has been constructed over Buckingham canal and Pallikaranai
5. Expressways and bypass roads have been constructed in an autocratic manner
6. No proper drainage of rainwater
7. Many lakes and pond have been replaced by IT Corridor
8. Engineering colleges etc., have been constructed over there on the pathways followed by the drainage of water
9. Automobile and telecom SEZ as well as residential areas are made in low-lying area were lakes
Chennai Floods not Natural Disaster – They’ve been created by Unrestrained Construction:
The infrastructure of big commerce has replaced the infrastructure to withstand natural shock.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s response to the floods in Tamil Nadu is frightening. A report in NDTV quotes her as saying, “Losses are unavoidable when there’s very heavy rain. Swift rescue and relief alone are indicators of a good government.” These words are intended to normalise a human-made disaster, and gloss over the pathology of urban development under successive administrations.
It is quite usual for politicians and civic officials to blame so-called unprecedented rains for the civic and humanitarian crisis each monsoon brings, and decouple development from disaster. But unprecedented rains occur quite regularly in Chennai. As a city on the high-energy coast facing the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is no stranger to heavy rains and cyclonic storms. Chennai has experienced particularly heavy rains roughly once every 10 years – 1969, 1976, 1985, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2015.
In fact, at 235 mm, last weekend’s rainfall is not even the big daddy of big rains. The Nungambakkam rain gauge recorded 270 mm on October 27, 2005; 280 mm in 1969, and 450 mm in November 1976. Even in 1976, Adyar overflowed its banks and invaded first- floor houses. But those were the days when Chennai was derided for being an overgrown village, an underdeveloped aspirant to metropolitan status.
Today, Chennai has a host of expensive infrastructure aimed at ushering in a “Make in Chennai” boom — a brand-new (though leaky) airport built on the floodplains of the River Adyar, a sprawling bus terminal in flood-prone Koyambedu, a Mass Rapid Transit System constructed almost wholly over the Buckingham Canal and the Pallikaranai marshlands, expressways and bypass roads constructed with no mind to the tendency of water to flow, an IT corridor and a Knowledge Corridor consisting of engineering colleges constructed on water bodies, and automobile and telecom SEZs and gated residential areas built on important drainage courses and catchments.
With every invitation to make in Chennai, the city is unmaking itself and eroding its resilience to perfectly normal monsoon weather events. The infrastructure of big commerce has replaced the infrastructure to withstand natural shocks. The 2015 disaster was not just avoidable; it was a direct consequence of decisions pushed for by vested interests and conceded by town planners, bureaucrats and politicians in the face of wiser counsel.
The case of the Pallikaranai marshlands, which drains water from a 250-square-kilometre catchment, is telling. Not long ago, it was a 50-square-kilometre water sprawl in the southern suburbs of Chennai. Now, it is 4.3 square kilometres less than a tenth of its original. The growing finger of a garbage dump sticks out like a cancerous tumour in the northern part of the marshland.
Two major roads cut through the water body with few pitifully small culverts that are not up to the job of transferring the rainwater flows from such a large catchment. The edges have been eaten into by institutes like the National Institute of Ocean Technology. Ironically, NIOT is an accredited consultant to prepare Environmental Impact Assessments on various subjects, including on the implications of constructing on water bodies.
Other portions of this wetland have been sacrificed to accommodate the IT corridor. But water offers no exemption to elite industry. Unmindful of the lofty intellectuals at work in the glass and steel buildings of the software parks, rainwater goes by habit to occupy its old haunts, bringing the back-office work of American banks to a grinding halt.
The vast network of water bodies that characterised Chennai can only be seen on revenue maps now. Of the 16 tanks belonging to the Vyasarpadi chain downstream of Retteri, none remain, according to Prof. M. Karmegam of Anna University.
Virtually every one of the flood-hit areas can be linked to ill-planned construction. The Chennai Bypass connecting NH45 to NH4 blocks the east flowing drainage causing flooding in Anna Nagar, Porur, Vanagaram, Maduravoyal, Mugappair and Ambattur. The Maduravoyal lake has shrunk from 120 acres to 25.
Ditto with Ambattur, Kodungaiyur and Adambakkam tanks. The Koyambedu drain and the surplus channels from Korattur and Ambattur tanks are missing. Sections of the Veerangal Odai connecting Adambakkam tank to Pallikaranai are missing.
The South Buckingham Canal from Adyar creek to Kovalam creek has been squeezed from its original width of 25 metres to 10 metres in many places due to the Mass Rapid Transit System railway stations. Important flood retention structures such as Virugambakkam, Padi and Villivakkam tanks are officially abandoned.
Before political rivalry between the two Dravidian parties brought it to a midway halt, an ill-advised Elevated Express freight corridor from Chennai harbour to Maduravoyal had already reclaimed a substantial portion of the Cooum’s southern bank drastically reducing the flood-carrying capacity of the river.
Remarkably, all these causes were listed out by the government’s own officials at a seminar on waterways organised by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority in 2010. But there seems to be many a slip between enlightened understanding and enlightened action.
The Second Masterplan prepared by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority glibly authorises built-up spaces with no regard to hydrology. In the Ennore region, the authority has reclassified water bodies, intertidal zones and mangrove swamps as “Special and Hazardous Industries” and handed it over to the Kamarajar Port Ltd.
In Ponneri, a town in a rural part of Chennai Metropolitan Area, developers are executing Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority-approved plans with no regard to drainage. Last weekend, Ponneri received 370 mm of rain – 135 mm more than Chennai did. While it suffered from flooding, damage to property and life was not high. Ponneri is slotted to be developed as a Smart City. But will our dumb engineers be able to build a smart city?
(e) Pallikaranai Marshland:
1. Pallikaranai marshland in a southern suburb of Chennai, it used to absorb the rainfall that occurred in an area of about 250 square kilometer.
2. Some years ago it was spread in an area of about 50 square kilometer but now it has been reduced to only 4.35 square kilometer.
3. Two big roads passing through it stopped the flow and drainage of water.
4. This marshland also used to house for animals and birds but now it has been captured by humans.
5. In order to provide basic infrastructure to city, water-reservoir were not used properly and the natural ecosystem was destroyed.
(f) Transferring for Warning about the Chennai Flood:
Corporation of Chennai removed Corporation works department joint commissioner Dr. Vijay Pingale for being stringent against the contractors. Before three days, he named contractors who botched up road work in the city and fined them The recent rains showed the pathetic road works done by contractors Pingale, fined nine contractors Rs. 2 crores for building low quality roads.
In our eagerness to create we have destroyed the natural safe guards that have been in place for thousands of years and this will be every expensive for us and have to pay the price.