Alternative World Water Forum

The city of Chennai – a coastal metropolis of 8.7m people and capital of India’s Tamil Nadu region – has been flooded by an extreme weather event. The city experienced incessant rain, in what has been its wettest November for over a century: December 1 broke local records, with 490mm of rainfall.

The results have been catastrophic: the Adyar and Cooum rivers overflowed, 35 major lakes breached their banks and large parts of the city – including the international airportwere submerged. Schools and hospitals were shut down, electricity and electronic networks were unavailable for days, and life was turned upside down not just for residents, but also for flagship IT and automobile companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Cognizant, Yamaha, Renault Nissan and BMW India.

The confirmed death toll from the flooding is 270 and rising, and a trade body has estimated that monetary losses will be in the region of Indian Rupees 15,000 crores (£1.5 billion). While the flood waters have now receded, health epidemics ranging from malaria to cholera and typhoid may well be imminent.

It is widely believed that Chennai’s misery was brought on by climate change, and that such extreme weather events are going to increase in frequency and impact. World leaders have blamed the event on global warming, even as the COP21 climate change conference plays out as expected in Paris. As the climate battles rage in the natural and political worlds, Chennai represents the human dimensions of disaster.

Read more on the website of The Conversation

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