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On February 1st, a report appeared in the Economic Times with the title "Tamil Nadu response to flood was slow, says central analysis". Among other things, this report claims,

reports suggesting that rains and the excess water released from the dam at Chembarambakkam resulted in the flooding of many parts in the city, are being looked at.

It appears now that this central analysis mysteriously doesn't exist, but this particular charge - that the main reason for the flooding was the release of waters from the Chembarambakkam into the Adyar. Further, according to this story, PWD (or other government officials - the details vary with the teller of the tale) had to wait for instructions from the CM's office to release water from Chembarambakkam, and that, had the water been released earlier, the city would have been saved. Apparently, the BBC weather service had predicted heavy rains, and if their warnings had been heeded in time, everything would have been fine, but the bureaucratic delay in opening the sluice gates at the tank is what caused so much of the city to inundate.

To anyone who knows the hydrology of the city and its history, this narrative should immediately sound suspicious. But to really make sense of it, we need to look into the structure of the Adyar River and the Chembarambakkam Tank.

Moving on from the floods

2016 February 04

Two months have passed since the floods, and people have started moving on, rebuilding their lives and homes. Other problems, other debates have taken centre-stage in public discourse, and even the roads are being relaid. But have we moved ahead? Have we learnt anything from the devastation of the 1st of December 2015? Do we need to make any changes to the way we live, or to our infrastructure? Can the city be made safer? Is a course-correction necessary now? Over the last two months - and indeed, for several years before that, we have been struggling with these questions. The two Master Plans were the official attempt to answer these among several others, all related to the development of the city. Now, given all that we went through in these monsoons, some updation of these plans is probably in order. I'm not a PWD engineer or an IAS officer in charge of these questions, but this is an exploration of these questions from an ordinary citizen's perspective.