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'Chennai could have avoided the floods'

By BS Reporter
December 04, 2015 12:32 IST
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People being rescued from inundated Kotturpuram locality after heavy rains in Chennai.

A number of cities, including Chennai, are water-scarce and at the same time prone to flooding.

The Centre for Science and Environment has said Chennai could have fared better if it had protected and preserved its natural water bodies and drainage channels.

CSE’s director-general Sunita Narain stated: “We have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that our urban sprawls such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Srinagar, have not paid adequate attention to the natural water bodies that exist in them.

"In Chennai, each of its lakes has a natural flood discharge channel, which drains the spillover.

"But we have built over many of these water bodies, blocking the smooth flow of water.

"We have forgotten the art of drainage.

"We only see land for buildings, not for water.”

Citing the destruction of wetlands in Chennai, she said: “Wetlands are rarely recorded under municipal land laws; so nobody knows about them. Planners see only land, not water and greedy builders take over.”

A number of cities, including Chennai, are water-scarce and at the same time prone to flooding.

Both problems are related -- excessive construction leading to poor recharge of groundwater aquifers and blocking of natural drainage systems, says Sushmita Sengupta, deputy programme manager with CSE’s water team.

Image: People being rescued from inundated Kotturpuram locality after heavy rains in Chennai. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI

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BS Reporter in Chennai
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