India witnessed increased flooding incidences during recent past especially in urban areas reportedly since Mumbai (2005) as a mega disaster. Other South Asian cities like Dhaka, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, besides many other cities in India, are also reportedly been affected by frequent floods. Flood risk in urban areas are attributed to hazards accelerated by growth in terms of population, housing, paved-up areas, waste disposal, vehicles, water use, etc. all contributing to high intensity – high load of runoff. Reduced carrying capacity of drainage channels is also a key concern. Haphazard growth of low-income habitations and un-organised trade added to challenge. Spatial dimensions of all these flood factors are often characterised by land-use and changes. Chennai, a coastal mega-city is fourth largest metropolis in India, has a history of over 350 years of growth. Meteorologically there is no major upward or downward trend of rainfall during 200 years, and a decrease in last 20 years with a contrast record of increasing floods have been experienced. Analysis of land-use changes over the temporal and spatial scale has been undertaken for Chennai city in order to understand the patterns on green-cover, built-up area and consequences on hydrological settings. Land-use issues like decreased natural areas, loss of water bodies, encroachment of river/streams and other drainage channels, uncontrolled multiplication of built-up areas, have been identified as contributory factor to flood risk in Chennai. The paper discusses flood risk reduction and management strategies in urban context with example of the Chennai city and draws attention of land-use planners and disaster management experts to integrate their efforts for better and sustainable results.
Key words: Chennai city, floods, land-use changes, national guidelines.
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