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Chennai Floods Rattle Climate Summit

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who is also the president of UN brokered talks on climate change, took a lead to express his country’s solidarity with the people of Chennai.

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Dec 25 2015 4:27PM | Updated Date: Dec 28 2015 4:34PM

Chennai Floods Rattle Climate Summit

At the global summit currently deliberating about climate change in Paris, the devastating floods in Chennai found an echo. Almost every participant from the developing parts of the world linked it to greenhouse emissions and accused rich and developed nations of playing a key role in inflicting an unpardonable imbalance on the nature. However, without batting an eyelid, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who is also the president of UN brokered talks on climate change, took a lead to express his country’s solidarity with the people of Chennai. “Flooding in India’s Chennai region has taken a tragic toll. I want to express France’s solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy,” Fabius said, adding that “the unprecedented magnitude of the flooding confirms yet again that we no longer have time; we must take concrete and urgent action against climate disruption.”

 

More than 260 people were killed and around 200,000 people were forced to leave their homes for safer places after the rain-triggered flood hit Tamil Nadu’s capital.  In fact, it started on November 8 and continued through several days in December. According to meteorological department, it broke a 100-year-old record as the city received 1,218.6 mm rainfall - three times of its monthly rainfall in November. On the first day of December itself, the city which is known for being the biggest industrial and commercial hub of South India, recorded 374 mm rainfall.

 

Even the Adyar River which flows through Chennai, swelled to dangerous levels. More than 30 aircraft were stranded at the airport, forcing thousands of passengers to remain stuck at the airport for more than 24 hours. Rail and bus services were closed down. Telephone services had also got snapped due to water-logging; schools and colleges were closed; shutters were pulled down on shops and offices. Deluge turned menacingly threatening. Alarmed by rising humanitarian crisis, the Centre pressed into service relief and rescue work. Indian Army and Navy also added their mite to relief and rescue operations. The Indian Navy rushed its amphibious warship INS Airavat stocked with food and other essential supplies to Chennai port.

 

Business and commerce also got derailed. The city which is manufacturing hub of several automobile companies like Hyundai, Ford, BMW, Nissan, TVS, Renault-Nissan and Ashok Leyland suffered a huge loss. According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the financial loss to the city due to the flood may exceed Rs 15,000 crore. Despite this, some experts shied off to link the development with climate change. But civil society members were stumped; they had every reason to believe that such devastating rain-triggered flood could happen only due to intense weather change. But then at the heart of such devastation lay human greed; huge deforestation and development in unregulated manner have damaged the environment beyond repair. Given this, it would not be surprising at all if Chennai like phenomenon occurs with greater frequency and ferocity in future.