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Indian PM Links Worst Floods in a Century to Climate Change as More Cities Face Extreme Weather

StoryDecember 08, 2015
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In India, catastrophic flooding in the southern city of Chennai has killed at least 269 people and cut off basic services for more than 3 million people as the army and air force continue rescue operations. The flooding is being described as the worst in more than a century. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has blamed the flooding on climate change. “That region has never seen this a volume of rainfall,” says Nitin Sethi, senior associate editor at the Business Standard in India. “Certainly, we are clearly seeing a pattern where rainfall systems are changing and also cities are incapable of adjusting to these kinds of extreme events. That is why I think developing countries like India are saying we need finances and technology to build new cities better rather than making it worse.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Nitin Sethi, I don’t want to end before talking about your home country, India. You have now the air force resuming rescue operations—

NITIN SETHI: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai underwater. What is happening?

NITIN SETHI: Well, we’ve seen unprecedented rains, in a fashion that we’ve never seen in the last century in that part of the country. That region has never seen this volume of rain fall so suddenly. We’re clearly seeing a pattern where rainfall systems are changing. We’re also seeing that our cities are incapable of adjusting to these kind of extreme events, which is why I think developing countries like India keep saying we need finances, we need technology, to build our new cities better rather than making it worse.

AMY GOODMAN: And in Delhi, cars have to go alternative days—

NITIN SETHI: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —based on even and odd license plates?

NITIN SETHI: In some sense, we are following the Beijing model, saying we need to also clean up our act. It signifies the fact that India is trying to do a lot on its own. The fact that it’s moving on this path saying we must have increased public transport is working, but it’s not enough. You do need finances and technology to clean up.

AMY GOODMAN: A new coal power plant every single month is opening until 2020 in India?

NITIN SETHI: Well, that’s what the government suggests. And even after it does that, its total coal production will be about a third of what U.S. produces today. Its per capita consumption of coal will be a fifth. So we’re just [inaudible] to get there. You can’t block us before we reach there.

AMY GOODMAN: We thank you very much for being with us, Nitin Sethi, senior associate editor at Business Standard.

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Arundhati Roy on the Media, Vaccine Inequity, Authoritarianism in India & Challenging U.S. Wars

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