Chennai Floods a Man-Made Disaster, Say Experts

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The massive floods in Chennai has killed over 100 people.


Chennai:  As Chennai struggles to find its footing after the massive floods that has killed over 100 people, experts say it was a man-made disaster that was waiting to strike the city.

Over the years, water bodies across the city have been filled up and built upon, often by politicians with interests in the real estate business, say environmentalists. The result:  During incessant rains, water overflows. In 2005 a similar deluge shook the city. This time, around 12000 people had to be evacuated in Chennai alone.

Nisha Thota an environmentalist and Founder of SHUDDA said, "It's a wake-up call. There would be even bigger tragedies if we don't preserve our water bodies, if we don't deepen them... We don't have to depend on other states for water".

At Perumbakkam, off the IT Corridor, Thiyagarajan's dream home is on a filled-up lake. This prime property is surrounded by water accessible only by boat. The family has moved to a friend's house.

"Sewage has mixed with drinking water now. We pay so much of property tax but the government doesn't address our problems. It's just keen to show traffic on the roads has resumed," he said.

A year ago, 61 people were crushed to death after an under-construction high-rise building put up on a lake bed collapsed. People still wade through knee-deep to waist-deep waters in Chennai's low-lying areas. Many blame it on successive state governments for converting water bodies into housing estates. Some residents call it vote bank politics others say its collusion with developers. But the nightmare for people living in these areas is far from over.

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