Shared blame – Chennai’s Brush with Michaung: A Tale of Resilience and Lingering Vulnerabilities | 6 December 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

What's the article about?

  • It talks about the disaster caused by Cyclone Michaung in the city of Chennai.


  • GS1: Important Geophysical Phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
  • GS1: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies
  • GS3: Disaster and Disaster Management


  • Chennai, pounded by relentless rain from Cyclone Michaung, saw its streets flood, trees topple, and power cut off. While the blame for such devastation can never fall solely on nature, the city's infrastructure, weakened by years of underinvestment and neglect, proved worryingly fragile.

Cyclone Michaung:

  • Cyclone Michaung was a severe cyclonic storm that made landfall in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on December 5, 2023. The storm caused heavy rainfall and strong winds, which led to widespread damage and loss of life.
  • ‘Michaung’ is named after a suggestion provided by Myanmar. It means strength and resilience.
  • Impact of Cyclone Michaung:
    • Rainfall: Michaung brought heavy rainfall to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, with some areas receiving more than 250 mm of rain in a single day. This led to flash flooding and landslides.
    • Winds: The storm also produced strong winds, gusting up to 110 km/h. These winds caused damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.
    • Damage: Michaung caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed.
  • Cyclone Michaung and climate change:
    • Some scientists believe that Cyclone Michaung was made more intense by climate change.
    • Warmer ocean temperatures can provide more energy for cyclones, making them stronger and more destructive.
    • Climate change is also expected to increase the frequency and intensity of cyclones in the future.


  • While apportioning blame after a natural disaster is a futile exercise, Chennai's response to Cyclone Michaung on December 4th, 2023, reveals a city learning from its past. Inundated by 120-250mm of rain, the city witnessed power cuts, fallen trees, clogged drains, and transportation disruptions. Yet, it held its ground, thanks to:
    • Early warnings and preparedness: Remembering the 2015 floods, Chennai heeded warnings and implemented measures.
    • More resilient infrastructure: Improved infrastructure compared to 2015 minimized damage.
    • Collective memory: The 2015 experience instilled a sense of urgency in residents.
  • While the storm's intensity couldn't match 2015's, its impact exposed the city's underlying vulnerabilities:
    • Precarious power infrastructure: The precautionary power shutdown highlights years of neglect in maintenance.
    • Urban planning woes: Unplanned construction, zoning violations, and littering continue to plague Chennai.
    • Climate change concerns: Warmer seas intensifying cyclones like Michaung raise long-term anxieties.
  • Road Ahead: From Oxymoronic Measures to Sustainable Solutions:
    • Urgent infrastructural upgrades: Chennai cannot afford quick fixes; long-term investments in power, drainage, and waste management are crucial.
    • Addressing indiscipline: Public cooperation in waste disposal and adherence to regulations are essential.
    • Empowering sanitation workers: Treating sanitation workers, primarily Dalits and Adivasis, with dignity and fair compensation is long overdue.

Way Forward:

  • Michaung may have passed, but its wake serves as a stark reminder. Chennai must not only build resilience but also address systemic issues to prevent resorting to drastic measures like power cuts in the face of future storms. Only then can the city truly emerge stronger, not just against nature's fury, but also its own vulnerabilities.

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Download the Samajho App

Join 5 lakh+ students in downloading PDF Notes for 2000+ Topics relevant for UPSC Civil Services Exam. &nbsp Samajho Android App: Samajho iOS App: &nbsp Samajho IAS Youtube Channel (300K+ Subscribers):