The Madras High Court slammed the Greater Chennai Corporation on Tuesday (November 9) questioning the civic body for failing to take adequate steps to prevent heavy flooding in the city even after the havoc witnessed during the devastating 2015 floods.
“It is such a pity that half the year, we are longing for water and for the rest of the half, we are dying in water…This cannot be the state of a leading state in the country,” said the Madras High Court bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu. Even as several parts of the city continue to be inundated following heavy rains since Saturday, the bench asked the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) what they have been doing for the past six years to improve the situation.
The Court then went on to warn the GCC counsel that it would take up a suo motu PIL petition on the hardships being faced by residents due to waterlogging, if there is no improvement in the situation by the weekend.
The Bench was hearing a petition on maintaining adequate width of public roads in the State and another on alleged encroachments of water bodies. The Bench urged the GCC to remove the encroachment of water bodies, which is the major reason for the flooding, said a Business Line report.
Since the arrival of the northeast monsoon in Tamil Nadu last month, the state has recorded about 43 per cent rainfall above normal. Since Saturday, Chennai and several suburbs in Chengelpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts have witnessed some of the heaviest rains. Predictably, most roads and bylanes are flooded and neighbourhoods are without power supply, said media reports.
Already, five people have died due to rain-related incidents in the state and over 260 huts and 70 houses have been damaged.
To clear waterlogging and subways, GCC has deployed 23,000 personnel. According to a PTI report, which quoted authorities, out of the 16 city subways that were flooded, water has been drained in 14 of them. Following the 2015 floods, the state and GCC had announced projects to improve the stormwater drain network in the city.
The Federal reported that in the 2020-2021 budget, the state had allocated the Chennai Corporation ₹3,000 crore for a comprehensive flood mitigation project. The project was said to be undertaken with the help of the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. But despite massive budget allocations, it is unclear what kind of projects have been undertaken by the government to mitigate the impact of flooding in the state.
Chennai and its neighbouring districts are likely to face more days of intense rain and an alert has been issued for people living in low-lying areas in parts of the state.