A Year After Devastating Floods, Chennai Worries About Another One

Chennai floods had killed over 300 and left more than 17 lakh without homes last December.

Chennai: Almost a year after massive floods devastated Chennai, many are complaining that the Tamil Nadu government has not desilted River Adyar to avert a similar tragedy. Floods on this river had killed over 300 and left more than 17 lakh without homes last December. The clean-up, they say is important to let the river carry more water into the sea without flooding residential areas.

In Chennai's Defence Colony, the ground floor of Jayaprakash's house was submerged last December as water rose up to at least 12 feet high. Jayaprakash's family, including elderly parents, survived by moving to the first floor but did not have enough food for three days. The same day his daughter gave birth and the family couldn't visit her at the hospital. He says his family lost property worth Rs 15 lakh.

"They should have deepened, widened, de-silted the river so more water could flow. They've not done it," says Jayprakash. His wife J Sasikala added "It was a nightmare. It is so depressing whenever we think of it."

The opposition DMK blames the ruling party AIADMK. Spokesperson TKS Elangovan said "The government hasn't learnt any lesson."

River Adyar is 42 km long. The north east monsoon has already set in. However, the AIADMK claims the work would be completed in a month. Spokesperson and former minister C Ponnaiyan says, "It is a marathon task. Here and there we are de-silting now but before monsoon we would finish."

Environmentalists say the least the government should have done is put in place a river course management plan.

"De-silting a part or cleaning up one part will not help; whether it will increase water holding or create a buffer against flooding it has not been studied. We need a system based on hydrological principles," says Dr Jayshree Vencatesan from Care Earth Trust.

Though authorities claim Chennai has been made flood proof in several aspects, many say the state government has not done enough to ensure this river wouldn't wreak havoc again even after a year.
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