Heavy torrential rains in the past few days in southern India’s largest metropolitan city Chennai have brought the vibrant city to a standstill. The rains are said to be the heaviest in the last century. The Indian Army has been deployed for round-the-clock rescue and relief operations. As the Indian Meteorological Department forecast more rains over the next three days, leading Indian environment experts attending the Paris climate change summit have speculated that the crisis is the ‘full-blown impact’ of global warming.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Chennai to assess the situation and chart the way ahead. “Leaving for Chennai to take stock of the situation arising due to the devastating floods,” Mr Modi tweeted before starting for Chennai.
Assessing the impact of climate change, the experts have said it cannot be ruled out as the scale of the devastation has been massive. Hundreds of people have died and many have been displaced from their homes. “We are now experiencing the full blown impacts of climate change. The extreme rainfalls that Chennai is experiencing is a direct outcome of our ever warming planet,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General of Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Heavy rains have flooded several parts of Chennai and its suburbs along with Puducherry, which has completely disrupted normal life. Army and disaster management forces are working on the ground in Chennai to undertake rescue on a war-footing. Having broken a 100-year-old record with one day’s rainfall covering a month’s average, the rains led to flooding major areas in the city as nearby lakes overflowed into the city.
Some reports also cited the rapid growth Chennai has witnessed in the last 15 years due to the tech and manufacturing boom at the cost of environment as a major reason. With more concrete buildings being constructed and huge number of trees being cut in the city, there is not much room for water to be absorbed which has led to increase in flooding. Many analysts say it is more a man-made disaster and the damage could have been minimised with proper planning.
“The global average temperature has increased by less than 1 degrees. Think what will happen at 2 degree temperature increase,” Mr Bhushan said. Harjeet Singh of Action Aid India, said, “Climate change has always been a contributing factor. We cannot say that it is 100 per cent because of climate change. Here we are talking about the scale of destruction and such rains which have happened after 100 years.” “If we look at the disasters in the last five years, from Kashmir to Uttarkahand, if we see the trend, it becomes clear that it is because of climate change,” he added.
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