Urban Resilience and Flash Floods: A Case Study of Chennai Metropolitan City

  • AnshuEmail author
  • S. Fazal D. Firduai
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


The research chapter primarily examines urban flooding caused by catastrophic rainfall that occurred in December 2015 in Chennai, India. Chennai, India’s fourth largest metropolitan city, was totally paralyzed by flooding for several days. The deluge destroyed crucial roads and rail-links, shut down the airport, snapped power and telecom lines, and cut off >3 million people from basic services for several days. This study investigates the dynamics of rainfall in and around Chennai city in particular and Tamil Nadu state in general. The devastating rains exposed the urban resilience in this important metropolitan. City resilience is its ability to endure in the face of emergency situations arising due to natural or man-made catastrophes. The present study also explains the weather system that prevailed during the incessant rainfall that inundated several parts of the city. It highlights the paradox of scarcity and abundance that exists in Chennai, which remains one of the most water-stressed cities in India. It probes the major causes of urban flooding from three different perspectives—global warming, those related to El-Nino, and those related to faulty urban-planning practices—thus highlighting the importance of resilience in smart-city design. In this regard, an effort is made to decode the Chennai flood in context of major urban-planning and urban-design principles outlined under the UN’s Habitat-II and III. It points out the ways in which land-use planning and environment protection has been blatantly ignored by the authorities, again highlighting the importance of making cities resilient. It tries to underline, through examples, the apathy and laxity of local authorities in urban management and governance practices. The chapter also envisages to measure level of disaster preparedness during those floods and concludes that for a city that dreams of attaining global competency, Chennai was complacent about its vulnerability to natural disasters.


Urban flooding Urban planning Urban management 

List of Abbreviations


Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation


Comptroller & Auditor General of India


Community Based Organisations


National Disaster Management Authority


Non-Governmental Organisations


National Institute of Ocean Technology




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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyKirori Mal College, University of DelhiNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Competitive Exam CenterSavitribai Phule Pune UniversityPuneIndia

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