How Chennai, one of the world's wettest major cities, ran out of water
Climate change is bringing rising sea levels and increased flooding to some cities around the world and drought and water shortages to others. For the 11 million inhabitants of Chennai, it’s both.
India’s sixth-largest city gets an average of about 1,400mm (55 inches) of rainfall a year, more than twice the amount that falls on London and almost four times the level of Los Angeles. Yet in 2019 it hit the headlines for being one of the first major cities in the world to run out of water..—trucking in 10 million liters a day to hydrate its population. This year, it had the wettest January in decades.
The ancient south Indian port has become a case study in what can go wrong when industrialization, urbanization and extreme weather converge and a booming metropolis paves over its flood plain to satisfy demand for new homes, factories and offices.
Formerly called Madras, Chennai sits on a low plain on the southeast coast of India, intersected by three main rivers, all heavily polluted, that drain into the Bay of Bengal. For centuries it has been a trading link connecting the near and far east and a gateway to South India. Its success spawned a conurbation that grew with scant planning and now houses more people than Paris, many of them engaged in thriving auto, healthcare, IT and film industries.
But its geography is also its weakness.
The cyclone-prone waters of the Bay of Bengal periodically surge into the city, forcing back the sewage--filled rivers to overflow into the streets. Rainfall is uneven, with up to 90% falling during the northeast monsoon season in November and December. When rains fail, the city must rely on huge desalination plants and water piped in from hundreds of kilometers away because most of its rivers and lakes are too polluted.
While climate change and extreme weather have played a part, the main culprit for Chennai’s water woes is poor planning. As the city grew, vast areas of the surrounding floodplain, along with its lakes and ponds, disappeared. Between 1893 and 2017, the area of Chennai’s water bodies shrank from 12.6 square kilometers to about 3.2 square kilometers, according to researchers at Chennai’s Anna University. Most of that loss was in the past few decades, including the construction of the city’s famous IT corridor in 2008 on about 230 square kilometers of marshland. The team from Anna University projects that by 2030 around 60% of the city’s groundwater will be critically degraded.
With fewer places to hold precipitation, flooding increased. In 2015, Chennai suffered its worst inundation in a century. The northeast monsoon dumped as much as 494mm (19.4 inches) of rain on the city in a single day. More than 400 people in the state were killed and 1.8 million were flooded out of their homes. In the IT corridor, water reached the second floor of some buildings.
Four years later it was a shortage of water that made headlines. The city hit what it called Day Zero as all its main reservoirs ran dry, forcing the government to truck in drinking water. People stood in lines for hours to fill containers, water tankers were hijacked, and violence erupted in some neighborhoods.
“Floods and water scarcity have the same roots: Urbanisation and construction in an area, mindless of the place’s natural limits,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, a writer and environmental activist who lives in Chennai. “The two most powerful agents of change—politics and business—have visions that are too short-sighted. Unless that changes, we are doomed.”
Tamil Nadu, the state of which Chennai is the capital, predicts in its climate change action plan that the average annual temperature will rise 3.1°C by 2100 from 1970-2000 levels, while annual rainfall will fall by as much as 9%. Worse still, precipitation during the June-September southwest monsoon, which typically brings the steady rain needed to grow crops and refill reservoirs, will reduce while the flood-prone cyclone season in the winter will become more intense. That could mean worse floods and droughts.
The northeast monsoon officially ends in December, but this winter the heavy rain continued well into January, with Tamil Nadu receiving more than 10 times the normal rainfall for the month.
“Such heavy rainfall was not normal when my parents and grandparents were young,” said Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of Chennai based non-profit Environmentalist Foundation of India. “People here talk a lot about the weird weather, but they don’t link it to climate change.”
Chennai is an extreme example of a problem that is increasingly disrupting cities around the world that are also grappling with rapid population increases. Sao Paulo, Beijing, Cairo and Jakarta are among urban centers facing severe water scarcity.“It’s a global problem, not just Chennai,” said Krishnamurthy. “We need to work together to ensure that we have a water-secure future.”
The Tamil Nadu government says it’s addressing the problem. In 2003, it passed a law requiring all buildings to harvest rainwater. The rule helped raise the water table, but the gains were soon eroded by a lack of maintenance, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s Central Ground Water Board. Efforts to recharge groundwater have also struggled to offset the volume of water being extracted through boreholes.
The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board did not respond to questions about the issue. The Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board did not reply to an e-mail seeking comments.
Shortly after 2019’s Day Zero, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami announced a public program that would include a “massive participation of women” covering everything from rainwater harvesting, water-saving and the recycling and protection of water resources, along with studies on how to clean up the state’s polluted rivers.
Until then, the government’s strategy had centered around the construction of large desalination plants, a costly tactic more commonly associated with arid nations or islands with limited fresh water. The plants have been criticized for causing environmental damage and having a negative impact on local fisheries.
Now, the government is pursuing a new approach inspired by the city’s past. The Greater Chennai Corporation is supporting an initiative called City of 1,000 Tanks, a reference to the ancient man-made lakes that were built around temples.
Supported by the Dutch government and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the plan is to restore some temple tanks and build hundreds of new ones with green slopes throughout the city to absorb and filter heavy rains, recharge the groundwater, and store water for use during dry months.
Meanwhile, Chennai continues to add a quarter of a million people a year, making it a race against time to curb the floods and water shortages.
“My fear is these things will happen more often in the future,” said Krishnamurthy. “We didn’t learn the lesson from ‘Day Zero.’”
Good morning. I welcome you all back to this new link and another new page in our lives. This page is a link to our old ones that started its journey in 2006 and I am now well past being surprised and all about my own longevity and persistence in writing here and sharing my thoughts about myself and my craft which is acting.
Two stories continue on, one old and one brand new and through both of them, I will try to do my best by writing stories about good and bad and evil and importantly about love that state of ecstasy that keeps us going on and makes all sacrifices worthwhile.
I am in Karaikudi shooting for Pandyan stores and Baakiyalakshmi's Mahasangamam which will begin from 8th of this month and will run for two weeks as an one hour episode.
All hell is going to break loose and me playing the main character of Gopinath is stuck right in the middle trying to get out of hopeless situations that sometimes is downright funny and also scary.
I am doing my best to justify the character by giving it a bit of comic twist and also at the same time making it a tragic character.
I confess that I do not know even the basics about photography and how to go about taking a great pic using lights and stuff. But I know that every sunrise is a special one and that it is a new day, another day in my life and time that will pass by never to return or turn back. Time and tide and all that. More than that i know that i am alive and well and have been blessed with sight and a precious opportunity to see for myself as a part of this universe. Through the thick salty, fishy air the golden light of the sun races towards me and i smile and welcome the one who is the oldest at nearly 4.5 billion years old and who has seen all that was, is and will be. The all seeing star, my sun, your sun and the real superstar, not reel superstar. I will my thoughts to pipe down and not hit high octaves and i will and quell my breath to bed down and sit and stare at the raging nuclear fireball who hangs like a small red tomato in the east over the sea of Bengal. A few cloud stragglers, orphans of wispy vapour slowly crept across the skies and down below two men on a boat were busy casting their fortunes for the Sunday market with their nets. Another day, another dawn and another time well spent with my star, sea and her wave babies who gurgled their breaths as they ran and splashed themselves on the shore. Some waves were more adult like in their moods, all gruff and deep and sober and made huge thuds as they slapped their tinier kith. The chill of last year still lingers shrouding the land but knows that the time has come for it to flee to another land and another season. Another day. Another ordinary day made special by the sun shrouded by clouds and the passing boat beneath its Eye.
Master in office
Once upon a time ( until a few years ago), Vijay was called as ILaya Thalapathy ( young commander = read second-in-command) for the commander and Thalapathy Rajini was still a force to be reckoned with and in power. But, In Transit.
It was with the release of Mersal that Vijay began to be called Thalapathy and rose to assume power over the box-office and finally took his place next to the Superstar.
At about this time, Simbu who was once called Little superstar faded away into the shadows with his tantrums, dud films and booze binges and his petty fights with Dhanush was lost and victory sealed with the release of Asuran and I doubt if Sembu, sorry simbu can do anything else anymore apart from being a cheap imitation of Rajini for Vijay has taken over that crown that Rajini himself took over from MGR.
What is that crown?
Hero of course. Hero for the masses that throng to the reel life and then throng to the same during elections all the time drowned in illusions.
Ticket counter and voting counter, sorry, booth.
Well, MGR did it and Rajini tried to but then backed away for fear of failure and also because of poor health. Then, pray tell me why you gave all those speeches about starting a party and contesting the elections.
Only he and God knows that.
Will Vijay one day become the Chief Minister of Namma state?
Possibly and as of now, the scenario looks possible. But that for later.
So, I saw Master on Amazon prime and absolutely loved it and my only grouse was the length of the film which could have been trimmed.
Master is the perfect film for Vijay's fans and for fans of commercial films and also is a case study for directors as to how to glorify a hero and still say your piece.
From all four sides and directions, people roared, screamed into my ears, " Vijay Sethupathy has wiped the floor with Vijay and has stolen the show."
Sorry but that is not how I saw it.
Vijay Sethupathy has done what he has always done and since he cannot do anything else given his limited skills as an actor. But his shortcomings have been masked well by the role and lines gifted to him by a large and kind-hearted Director.
Yet, it is Vijay who stands tall and delivers what the people want, his fans crave and who have thronged the movie halls braving a virus pandemic to witness and that is a hero, their Thalapathy in action.
The film does not disappoint and delivers all that the fans want of their hero. Dance, punch lines and mass opening.
Although, the current trend is mass openings in every scene and that too in slow motion.
Amidst both the hero Vijay and villain Vijay, a few kids manage to steal the show and pull the carpet from right under their feet
Story Good vs bad
Screenplay- A fallen man rises to avenge those who were wronged
Treatment- same old formula
Many decades ago, Rajini tried and found success in acting and those all films did very well. Mullum Malarum, Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai, Puthu kavithai, Thillu mullu, Netri Kann etc and then somehow slowly moved away from that kind wholesome family entertainers and surrendered to the whims of his fans and to commercial cinema.
But, somehow the actor in him survived and you could see that shine in his comedy scenes, angry scenes and mass scenes.
Sorry but you have to concede that even in mass films one has to act and act convincingly.
I think actors like Rajini and Vijay carry most of the burden of their film due to the mass but weak, tried and tested script that is specifically made for their fans.
What do fans want?
Style, speed, the ability and talent to deliver mass punch lines without blinking and yes, oh yes, Charisma and loads of it.
Both Rajini and Vijay have it and I will stop here using both their names in the same breath and sentence.
Why? For Vijay has miles and miles to go and I doubt if in this life if he can ever replicate Rajini's speed and style.
Yes, Vijay has taken over the box-office title and that was a given and an understood fact for Rajini is now nearly 70 years old and Vijay is now hitting his peak at 46.
Rajini in his 40's gave Blockbuster hits like Annamalai, Ejamaan, Baasha, Muthu, Arunachalam, Veera and Padayappa.
Vijay in his 40s has given us Thuppakki, Katthi, Theri, Mersal, Bigil and now Master.
Vijay is the Master right now but hey, the HeadMaster is still present and in school has not yet retired as of now.
Rajini vs Vijay.
Please, don't ask me that for I am a fan of Cinema, regardless of its cast.
But, Rajini in my book has more at his disposal than Vijay can ever dream of.
Remember, that Rajinikanth has ruled the box-office with an actor like Kamal as his competition and that too for more than 40 years.
Ilaya Thalapathy has risen to become Thalapathy.
Will the Master become the Headmaster?
We just have to wait and see about that.
Silence, Solitude and Janus soliloquy- A moment in my day.
In the beginning, there was darkness and it covered the womb and filled my senses. Then there was the sound. The beat of her heart. Then there was the sound. The soft coo of her love and then was my own sound, the beat of my own heart. Did I come alive then in her womb or in her and inside her and in her embrace?
I can hear the cry
Of the leaf on a tree
As it falls to the ground
I can hear the call
Of an echoing voice
And there's no one around, oh
We're two of a kind
Silence and I
We need a chance to talk things over
Two of a kind
Silence and I
We'll find a way to work it out
For the past ten days, I have been neck-deep in work that concerns the coming together of the two Vijay tv serials " Pandyan stores and Baakiyalakshmi" in what is now fashionably called " Mahasangamam. Since this makes the temporary merger a one-hour episode, my work has increased to such an extent that has led to the suffering of both my body and mind.
No workouts and lack of proper sleep have led to this period of stagnancy in my writing and in my exercise routine. So, I am on auto mode which for me means, " cut down on food and both Ozhiyum and Oliyum( meaning thought and talk).
Thankfully, the location that we are shooting in also happens to be the Pandyan stores shooting location situated on a huge property that can best be described in one word. An oasis. A small green jewel.A living and life-giving oasis shining amidst the concrete jungle with is birdcages and pigeon coops.
Oasis yes but an island too. The location is called " Sarojini gardens" but was formerly called Baktavatchalam house after the late and former chief minister by the same moniker and who also happened to be the last Congress chief minister.
Too much noise, comments, clutter and bang in the middle I sat and slowly slipped away into my own island that is in my mind and in my soul.
I cast my eyes down and arranged my face in a semblance of deep thought to ward away other human predators that might stray into my island and proceeded into the ward of my thoughts called " Schizo."
Like a dog, my ears were cocked for audio inputs while I carried on a conversation in my own private chat room or " Mind palace" as Sherlock Holmes calls it.
Sorry, if I am being mean and nasty when I say that almost all the Oli and Ozhi that emanates from the humans around me is zero in content. The same goes for my own Oliyum and Ozhiyum, Yes Siree Bob.
Sometimes, I think that the two halves of our brain inside our skull helmet was specifically designed by Mother nature so that one can carry on with another soul, mind and exist in solitude but exist and function perfectly well within their own two halves.
The name of the god Janus, meaning in Latin 'arched passage, doorway', is cognate with Sanskrit yati ('to go, travel').In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius).
Two-faced no but two minded yes.
Sometimes, I really convince myself that I was actually conceived as a twin but absorbed the other while in utero without the knowledge of my mother and others. I think the brain of that twin has somehow lodged itself in my own brain and has grown a mind of its own and in a process that can best be described as Chimera.
No man is an island- he is a holon. A Janus-faced entity who, looking inward, sees himself as a self-contained unique whole, looking outward as a dependent part. His self-assertive tendency is the dynamic manifestation of his unique wholeness, his autonomy and independence as a holon. Its equally universal antagonist, the integrative tendency, expresses his dependence on the larger whole to which he belongs: his 'part-ness.'.Arthur Koestler
To be continued.................................Hopefully. Sorry but then I am Janus and confess a chameleon too. Not face changer but thought changer to suit the ambience of my human tribe and to suit the situation and exist in peace and in one piece.
Guilt and all that
Guilt is a quilt that adorns many of us and in it ensconced we dwell. It is a cross that many of us bear and never put down and if possible carry it through to the next life.
I turned to my friends on my left and turned to the wise ones with shiny skulls on my right and then looked ahead at the sun and behind at the moon and asked, ' Guilt, conscience konjam, similar, ille?'
No reply from all sides. So, I closed my eyes and self and looked inside and questioned my self.
Guilt, remorse, conscience and other similar states and emotions are packed in with our voyage and it appears that many come pre-equipped with these extra goodies and incentives.
But honestly, sometimes, Guilt and even its negative weights act as a third limb, a crutch albeit a mental and invisible one.
Great expectations lead to great disappointments.“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
In a similar vein, Great guilt, great pessimism and great negativity directed at oneself do help when the crap hits the ceiling or when you are up the shit creek with a paddle and with a growing hole in the bottom of the boat.
Do something. Do anything but just do it as Nike says. Do anything ( but only to yourself and in your mind palace) and get through life.
Living can in my humble opinion be compared to the batting of Pujara and Pant.
Lottu, lottu,defence and a single. Pujara style. Adi, thadi, saathu, thooku, and fours and sixers. Pant style.
Offence. Defence. According to the pitch report. I mean life report.
“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
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