Chennai floods in 2015 man made, says CAG
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has squarely blamed the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam (AIADMK) government for the 2015 floods that ravaged Chennai.
A CAG report tabled in the Tamil Nadu assembly on July 9, states that the disaster which many have been made to believe as a natural calamity was a man-made one
According to the Tamil Nadu government 470 people had died between October and December due to floods. J Jayalalithaa, who was the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, in a detailed statement had said that the unprecedented rains was the cause for the deluge and also the huge damage in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts.
However, the CAG report that was released in 2016, has another narrative. The audit body has rebuked the state government in the way the Chennai floods in 2015 was handled and goes to call it a "man-made" disaster.
After continuous pressure put by the Opposition parties in the state, the TN government tabled the CAG report on July 9, the last day of the assembly session.
"This is a 2015 report based on the experience we had in 2015, when there was heavy rain; in 2016 and 2017 the occurrence was controlled," fisheries minister D Jayakumar said.
In 2016 and 2017 too many regions in Chennai and neighbouring districts faced heavy flooding.
In November 2017, Narayanapuram and Tambaram areas in Chennai, and Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts too had faced heavy flooding. "Those were only minor floodings," said Jayakumar who also added that the concerned departments will reply to the CAG report.
The report points at faults with the government especially with the water resources department being blamed the most.
The CAG report states that water from Chembarambakkam reservoir was released in excess and caused the over flowing of the Adayar river, which flows through Chennai.
The audit body has charged the water resource department with not following the Central Water Commission (CWC) norms to release the water from Chembarambakkam.
According to CAG, discharge of water could have been maintained at 12,000 cusecs for another six hours but the water was released in an indiscriminate manner.
The continuous release of 29,000 cusecs water over 21 hours into the Adyar river was seen as the main reason for the flooding.
"Government of Tamil Nadu failed not only to create new reservoirs and check dams to mitigate the flood hazards due to monsoon rains but also did not take any action to divert flood water from Adyar river," read the report.
Shockingly, the water resource department did not even have a compendium of rules or regulations for Chembarambakkam. In 2005 too a major flood had hit Chennai and its neighbouring districts and even after that an emergency action plan was not set up by the government.
The lack of government initiative to keep systems in check and rules and regulations in place too has been blamed by the CAG.
"We are not surprised with CAG report. We have long said government environmental policy is detrimental to the interests of state," said DMK spokesperson R Kannan.
Fast forward to 2016 and 2017; things have not changed much for Chennai and its neighbouring districts. During 2017 floods it was seen that the state government was working on an emergency basis to remove encroachments after the area was flooded.
The CAG report notes, "All factors put together indicate that it was a man-made disaster and unless the government of Tamil Nadu takes full charge of mitigating the contributing factors leading to December 2015 floods another disaster cannot be ruled out."