(Re)creating Disasters: A Case of Post-Disaster Resettlements in Chennai

Garima Jain, Chandni Singh, Teja Malladi | 2021

Damaged houses are among the most visible outcomes of hazard event impacts and attract immediate attention from various state and nonstate humanitarian actors to showcase responsiveness (Arvind and Ranjit 2020; Few et al. 2021). This was the case in Chennai, a metropolitan city in South India, where the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the devastating floods of 2015 caused widespread loss of life and damage to infrastructure. Following these events, pre-existing housing stock was used to resettle disaster-affected people in the name of providing humanitarian relief and reducing hazard exposure. In this chapter, we examine the longterm implications of these state-mandated resettlements, demonstrating how interventions to reduce hazard exposure (i.e. resettlement away from coasts and riverbanks) can aggravate risks if the resettlement locations are also exposed to hazards. Apart from the direct socio-economic implications of first the disaster and then the process of resettlement, the degraded conditions of living in these risk-exposed resettlements further exacerbate vulnerabilities. In effect, new socio-economic and ecological risks are created for the people as well as the city at large as a consequence of poorly planned interventions (Jain et al. 2017).