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Chennai’s Climate Change Action Plan awaits implementation

According to reports, Ever since former mayor M Subramanian participated in the UN Climate Summit at Copenhagen, he has been making the right noises about climate change in the city. 

Apart from several awareness meetings and talks on the subject, he paved the way for a Climate Change Action Plan to be drafted for the city by the Madras University, in association with the Kyoto University in Japan. The plan now lies in his succor’s hands as the Corporation Council is yet to adopt it.

The plan proposes a series of actions by various government authorities, public and private agencies and individuals to boost the resilience of the city towards climate-related disasters. The steps include development of a pre-disaster map indicating roads that are vulnerable to waterlogging, strict enforcement of building permits for all types of hazards for new buildings being constructed, conducting disaster drills at ward level at least once a year, creation of an evacuation plan at the community level and providing insurance schemes for all houses from disasters.

Measures like effective waste management, planning of urban land use, ensuring green lung space through stricter enforcement of development control rules and provisioning of budget for disaster reduction activities are some of the actionable steps suggested for the next two years. In the longer run, the plan suggests promotion of alternative sources of energy and commissioning of ecosystem services to make Chennai disaster resilient.

The action plan that was developed and tabled in December last year was on the verge of being implemented when the regime changed. The authorities had also conducted pilot studies at two sample wards, Ward 131 (Kodambakkam South) and Ward 79 (Adhikesavapuram), selected on the basis of a disaster resilience index that was prepared earlier for the Corporation by the Madras University. Nine hundred people had been surveyed in those areas on various aspects, including their socio-economic backgrounds and disaster preparedness.

“The climate action plan focuses on non-structural adaptation measures which are feasible and do not require large funds to be implemented,” notes a Madras University professor involved in the development of the plan. The plan could be especially crucial to cities, including Chennai.

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