A ‘Chennai’ in Every City of the World: The Lethal Mix of the Water Crisis, Climate Change, and Governance Indifference
The prevailing water crisis and problem of climate change demand a review of the developmental activities conducted by State of Tamil Nadu. While ascertaining a system to address the crisis can be daunting, integrated approaches, such as those that use technology, are fundamental to identifying and evaluating options for sustainable solutions.
This paper explores the water–climate nexus through the case study of Chennai, the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu in India. Climate change has influenced the behaviour and patterns of floods, brought about incessant rain and led to a shift in the monsoons. In addition, changes to the climate have resulted in a shortage of drinking water in Chennai. There is a concomitant problem of a large and increasing population. These elements warrant a discourse on law, humans and technology. In Chennai, the indifference and denial of political leaders have resulted in failure, and unsustainable measures to address the water crisis have been implemented. The intervention of the Supreme Court of India relating to a mechanism to deal with a water-sharing arrangement between the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the last few decades has been unsuccessful. None of the proposed solutions were based on incorporating technology, which is a major oversight.
The resultant consequences of water use and the complex mix of social factors surrounding the vulnerable population are addressed in this paper. The effect of the water crisis on women and the agricultural workforce is illustrated to argue for greater and more imaginative governmental intervention. The paper concludes with a discussion of the need for a holistic approach to climate change and the ongoing water crisis that invites better interventions, particularly in terms of technology, to address the crisis and avoid a situation in which groundwater will be critically degraded by 2030.