Floating ground force in Chennai Aiport
Floating ground force in Chennai AiportTwitter/CaptRanganathan

Chennai has been ravaged by an unprecedented downpour in the past week, the impact of which is still unfolding. But the city is not the only Indian city staring at flood-related disasters, as India as a whole is the world's most flood-prone country, according to a report by two researchers published on Water Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organisation.

The heavy downpour in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry was only to be expected, says the report, a blog written by Hessel Winsemius, researcher at Deltares and Philip Ward, senior researcher at the Institute of Environmental Studies of the VU University, Amsterdam.

Examining and quantifying the risk of floods globally using an online tool, the duo ranked 164 countries by the number of people affected by floods.

Right at the top is India, with 4.84 million people exposed to floods, followed by its South Asian neighbour, Bangladesh, at 3.48 million people.

The top 15 countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Pakistan and Indonesia account for 80% of the world's population.

In terms of economic consequences because of river flooding, at stake for India is about $14.3 billion annually.

Climate change will add to the woes of population exposed to river floods, since "both the frequency and intensity of river floods is expected to increase in many areas" making many stretches flood-prone, says the report.

There is no respite for the city, as private weather forecaster Skymet had said on Monday morning that the city would see "very light to light rain" in the next 24 hours, with the intensity likely to increase on 9 and 10 December, though not resulting in flooding.

Puducherry is also likely to witness rains, the Skymet update said.

The death toll of about 300 in Tamil Nadu due to the recent downpour is certainly low when compared to about 2,800 people killed in the state during the devastating tsunami of 2004, but the state is yet to recover from the tragedy left behind by the downpour not witnessed in about a 100 years.

The tragic part of the fourth largest Indian city is that it is just two metres above sea level, on an average, making the city extremely prone to flooding when it rains heavily, according to experts.

The risk to Chennai was reported in 2010.

"For starters, the sea will enter all the river mouths and then begin spreading itself. This means, all the low-lying areas along the Cooum and Adyar rivers, the Buckingham canal and other connected waterways in the city will be completely submerged under sea water," Prashant Hedao, a GIS specialist had said.

Also read
Quick Links