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Is this the alarm signal? Here’s what the experts say

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Alarming climate report for Chennai: is this the wake-up call? Here’s what the experts say

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Chennai: Wildfires, floods and heat waves regularly make the headlines these days. The latest is the climate change action plan released recently by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) which revealed the possibility of some extreme environmental changes in the coming years due to emissions, industrialization and urbanization of the city.

What does the climate action plan say?

The City of Chennai Corporation’s Draft Climate Action Plan says 100 meters of Chennai’s coastline is at risk of submergence due to a projected sea level rise of 7cm over the next five years.

According to predicted flood risk from extreme rainfall, 29.1% of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) area is at risk of flooding within five years, 56.5% would be at risk within 100 years.

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In the next 5 years, 41.1% of slums are threatened with flooding due to the population density which is twice as high as in the rest of the city. Similarly in 100 years, 68% of slums are at risk of flooding.

At least 20% of physical infrastructure, such as MTC bus stops, CMRL stations and commuter rail stations, smart bike stations, STPs and electric charging infrastructure would be affected in the next five years, while 45% of them will be in 100 years.

“North Chennai Thermal Power Plants will also be affected which will require replacement,” the report said.

In addition, 16% of the GCC area, which covers approximately 67 km2, will be permanently under water in 2100, endangering approximately 10,000 people in addition to the vulnerable population.

GCC, with support from C40 and the Center for Urban Management, prepared the action plan. Six sectors have been studied and climate risk reduction projects have been proposed in the GCC action plan. These include controlling floods and water scarcity, managing vulnerable populations, decarbonizing the power grid, increasing the use of renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings, sustainable waste management and transport.

Is the climate action plan a wake-up call?

Campaigners and experts hailed the showing of the report and said it was a wake-up call for all to join hands and work to reduce global warming.

Speaking to Times Network, GP Sharma, President of Meteorology and Climate Change at Skymet Weather, said: “The world is on a sleepy walk towards climate catastrophe. Nothing is being done to tackle climate change. icebergs from the Arctic to Antarctica are melting. The Thwaites Glacier and others are also deteriorating. All of this is contributing to sea level rise.”

“Fears are being expressed due to melting snow from glaciers and mountains which will eventually trigger sea level rise and Chennai’s problem is no different. 2021 was again one of the hottest years in seven years. Coasts around the world, including Chennai, are under threat. We need to take action in a timely manner, otherwise the assumptions will become reality one day,” Sharma stressed.

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Dr Sudhir Krishna, former Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development, said: “The report is a revelation not only for Chennai, but should be taken into account by all coastal cities in the country. Global warming is a global phenomenon and is being considered internationally by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They had given a report in 2019 in which the sea level was predicted to rise by 0.6 to about 1 meter. Some cities will be more affected because of this and Chennai is in the region at greatest risk.

“Development works on the Chennai coast must be carefully observed and regulated. High-rise buildings and major construction and excavation activities should be completely stopped near the coast. All Indian coastal cities should form a conclave with the help of the Indian government and discuss climate change in their respective cities and its impacts,” he advised.

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