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9th December 2023 (9 Topics)

Urban Floods: Chennai

Context

Recently, Cyclone Michaung lingered about 100 km off the coast of Chennai for about 16 hours. It caused torrential rains that pummelled the city, bringing life to an abrupt halt.

About

The Catastrophe Unfolds: Chennai Floodings

  • Cyclone Michaung: The city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu faced a grim ordeal on December 3-4, 2023, as Cyclone Michaung unleashed torrential rains, causing widespread havoc.
  • The aftermath revealed the city's vulnerability to such natural disasters.

City Under Siege: Chennai Submerged

  1. Water Levels Soar:Residents witnessed alarming rises in water levels, turning localities into virtual islands.
  2. Failed Drainage Systems: Blame was cast on faulty stormwater drains, amplifying the crisis, and residents expressed dissatisfaction with the State government's response.

The Human Toll: Lives Lost and Struggles amid Chaos

  1. Fatalities and Stranded Residents: The cyclone claimed 17 lives, leaving thousands stranded in waterlogged areas.
  2. Disrupted Services: The deluge disrupted daily life, shutting down the airport, canceling trains, and closing educational institutions for days.

Government Response: Seeking Relief and Rehabilitation

  1. Chief Minister's Plea: Tamil Nadu CM M.K. Stalin sought ?5,060 crore as interim relief from the Prime Minister.
  2. Coordination Efforts: Relief operations were initiated, with the GCC setting up 162 relief centers and distributing food to over 3.7 million people.
  3. Central Assistance: The Union government released ?450 crore to the State Disaster Relief Fund and an additional ?500 crore for a Chennai flood mitigation project.

Rescue Operations: Navigating Chaos

  1. Military Intervention: The Indian Army and National Disaster Response Force deployed boats to rescue stranded residents.
  2. Aid from the Skies: The Indian Air Force air-dropped relief materials in severely affected areas.

Chennai's Memory Lane: Echoes of 2015

  1. Comparing Disasters: Drawing parallels with the catastrophic floods of 2015, residents questioned the city's preparedness.
  2. Meteorological Insights: Meteorologists noted a 45% increase in cumulative rainfall between December 1 and December 5 compared to 2015.

Andhra Pradesh's Plight: Cyclone Michaung's Landfall

  1. Evacuation Efforts: Andhra Pradesh opened 9,000 shelters and evacuated thousands before the cyclone made landfall.
  2. Agricultural Devastation: Farmers faced extensive losses as cyclone-induced rains inundated crops in districts like Nellore, Tirupati, Guntur, Bapatla, East Godavari, and West Godavari.

Climate Trends and Cyclone Intensity

  1. Ocean Warming Impact: Experts noted increased cyclone frequency and intensity in the north Indian Ocean due to ocean warming.
  2. Call for Systematic Flood Control: Climate Trends advocated for a systematic flood control management strategy and an integrated drainage system.

Government Responses and Citizens' Concerns

  1. Government Accountability: Residents questioned the effectiveness of flood mitigation projects, highlighting areas neglected in the aftermath.
  2. Citizens' Appeals: As the city braces for more flood years, experts call for an integrated approach, retrieving encroached spaces, and rejuvenating water bodies.

Way Forward: Rebuilding Amid Uncertainty

  • Chennai faces the daunting task of rebuilding its infrastructure and preparedness in the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung.
  • The disaster serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for robust disaster management strategies and climate-resilient urban planning.

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