Thursday, November 27, 2008

Down and Washed Out

Well, I am not talking about the India - England ODI series, but rather the situation of Tamil Nadu, currently under the siege of heavy rains. Many parts of the state have been severely battered by cyclonic winds and torrential rains. The losses have been huge - both material as well as of life. Well, we cant control nature, but what we can control is how we handle the situation. We cant stop the rain, which is actually a good thing, but at least the losses and inconvenience can be minimized.

Fine, let me not get carried away too far. Helping out the rural villages seems very far away, when we cant even manage the water in the capital of the state - Chennai...!! Every year its the same old story. Promises are made to improve the storm water management infrastructure, but barely a line is drawn after the rains stop. Badly planned suburbs as well as major streets submerged in a lot of water, with floating debris, doesn't make for a very pretty sight. And having more than a foot of water flowing around in even some of the busiest and commercial places in the city, shows the pathetic state of affairs that are prevalent here. The worst part is, most of the time you cant be sure if it is the rain water or sewage water that you are stepping into. Furthermore the traffic woes in the city are a cause of anguish for many motorist, and during the rains, the flooded streets make matters absolutely frustrating...! Oh and don't forget the pot holes, that are lying in wait, submerged under the water for unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians...! 
These are just some of the hardships that everyone in Chennai has to put up with, during these times. Things are bad, just as it was last year, and the year before that. Can things improve..?? First of all, there cant be any improvement of the system, because quite plainly, there is no existing storm water management system in place at all...! That is because while planning the city, there was felt no need to have such a thing in place. I suppose its due to the fact that Chennai has witnessed several droughts in the past. So they must have thought... "Rains...? In Chennai...? No way...!! ". Fine, so the older parts of Chennai cant be blamed for lack of preparedness, but what about the new ones that came up after rapid urbanization of the city?

You cant expect any better of them, because lands are allotted for residential purposes, without any basic infrastructure. Not even sanitation facilities are provided in newly allocated areas, let alone storm water systems. As these areas begin to flourish, it becomes more and more difficult to develop infrastructure within them. So they just have learn to live with all the "inconveniences", such as the flooded streets.

Further more occupation ( illegal or "legal" encroachment ) and destruction of the inland water bodies does not allow the water to go anywhere. The natural water bodies can to some extent help to control at least a part of the rain water. Like the cooum river which if properly utilized could carry away the excess rain water ( currently transporting several liters of untreated sewage ) into the ocean. If not, all this rain water on the street could be channelized and stored in a reservoir.

To put something like this in order needs a huge revamp of  the city's planning. Putting in sufficiently capable storm drains in every part of Chennai is indeed a massively huge project...! Proper planning has to be done, busy streets have to be dug up, and work has to go on unhindered. Ultimately, to provide relief to the people of Chennai for one - two months, they have to be put through hardships for several months. Seems fair in the long run at least, for the people and the image of Chennai...!

So if this is the condition of the state's capital, then I don't see any ray of hope for the rural masses. They will continue to lose property and life to nature's ravages, most of which can be avoided by awareness and preparedness. Just monetary compensation for the losses, is definitely NOT the solution to this problem...!


Pushpit said...

With the rain water covering the roads and given the terrible condition of the roads, its really difficult to go out on the roads even after the rains have stopped.
The union minister of roadways is from Chennai. His profile should include improving the condition of roads. not just building some random flyovers....

Vinay said...

Hell yeah, the streets around my house are flooded like crazy. And I have been holed up in my place for like three days. Rain is Pain.

I dont care about the rural places, my street could have been drained better. I heard people in t nagar are stuck in their homes with water all around and snakes doing the rounds.

Vinay said...

me the blog roll the you

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the roads can recover from this massive deterioration..I think the worst affected city parts like Ekkaduthangal(Guindy),Nungambakkam,Kodambakkam and certain other low lying areas can no way recover from this in a Quick time..The first and foremost thing to be done is improving the drainage system..And to recover the Bodies of Animals that were dead due to this flood-->So that it stops communicable diseases from spreading..The Lanes around my house--No need to say are Waterlogged you can't even make your feet touch the Ground level..