The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has criticised the Tamil Nadu government’s handling of the floods in Chennai in 2015, calling it a “man-made disaster”, The Hindu reported. The audit agency held the government responsible for the scale of the disaster.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government tabled the report – titled Flood management and response in Chennai and its suburban areas – in the Assembly on Monday. The Comptroller and Auditor General had submitted the report to the government in March 2016. The Opposition had raised the matter in the Assembly during the last budget session and asked the government to present the report in the House.
The report said indiscriminate discharge of water from the Chembarambakkam reservoir had burdened the Adyar river and caused the flooding in the city and its suburbs.
The water resources department had claimed that it had a supervision mechanism in place but the audit agency said no record was made available of any communications between the official in-charge of the reservoir and the government officials. The report said that even if the chief engineer had supervised the discharge of water from the reservoir – as claimed by the water resources department – the actual inflow and outflow were not regulated according to Central Water Commission guidelines.
The Comptroller and Auditor General also accused the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority of failing to check large-scale construction along waterways and the illegal conversion of agricultural land and water bodies, PTI reported. The constructions choked waterways and altered land uses in the metropolitan area, the audit agency said.
“Allowing conversion of agricultural land without government approval and unauthorised conversion of water bodies, non-urban and Open Space and Recreation land for various other purposes resulted in drastic changes in land use and thereby contributed to the floods,” it added.
The audit agency also pointed out that the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority had not met even once since it was formed in November 2013.
The floods had claimed 289 lives, submerged 23.25 lakh homes, disrupted power and telecommunication services, caused extensive damage to public and private property and brought the city to a standstill for several days.