Some relief for flood-hit Chennai as rain stops, water level in rivers declines

CHENNAI (TIP): After days of chaos, there was finally some relief for the flood-battered people of Chennai, as a break in rain overnight helped reduce water levels of the Adyar and Kumbh rivers, thus easing large-scale flooding.

While intermittent rain has been forecast for Chennai over the next 24 hours, coastal and interior Tamil Nadu will receive more rain in that period.

NDRF chief O P Singh said the situation had improved in the city overnight as water levels in many areas receded. There was a sharp fall in the discharge of waters from Chembarapakkam, Pondi and Puzhal lakes as well, leading to reduction in the water levels of the two rivers that criss-cross the city.

Rescue and relief operations are continuing in full swing and the National Disaster Response Force will intensify its operations in the affected areas on Friday.

“5 NDRF teams from Punjab have reached Chennai at 3am on Friday morning,” the NDRF head said, adding, “We’ve rescued more than 9,000 people so far.”

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He added that power has been restored in several areas that were not waterlogged and the communications network has also improved.

Officials said that from a discharge of 30,000 cusecs of water from Chembarampakkam, one of the key sources of drinking water supply to Chennai city, it has come down to 13,000 cusecs in the afternoon and 5,000 cusecs at night after there was no fresh rain on Thursday.

Similarly, there has been considerable decline in discharge of water from Puzhal, Pondi and Madurantakam lakes among others.

Still, Chennai city remained virtually cut off from the rest of the country with all air, rail and road transport services continuing to be suspended. Public transport was crippled because of flooding of the arterial main roads, including Mount Road over the Marmalong bridge.

The Grand Southern Trunk Road that links Chennai with Madurai and beyond was cut off after breaches in several places in Kanchipuram district.

The Southern Railway announced cancellation of all inter- and intra-state train services till Saturday while the airport operations will remain suspended till Sunday.

Prices of milk, vegetables and food items skyrocketed because of short supply and people were forced to fork out huge amount of money for buying essentials.

With the flood wreaking havoc, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday undertook an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas of Chennai and its suburbs and the neighbouring districts of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur.

Later he held consultations with Jayalalithaa at the naval base “INS Adyar” and announced Rs 1,000 crores in aid for relief work. This amount is over and above the Rs 940 crores given by the Centre to Tamil Nadu during the earlier spell of heavy rain in November.

Jayalalithaa also made a separate aerial survey of the affected areas on Thursday.

In a brief statement that began in Tamil, PM Modi said he has seen the extent of damage suffered by the state and shared the misery of people of Tamil Nadu. “I will stand in support of you,” he said in his remarks after the review meeting with the chief minister.

Teams of NDRF, Army personnel and police and fire service men swung into action to rescue people from their flooded homes in Kotturpuram, Nandanam, Jafferkhanpet, Saidapet and the suburban areas of Velacheri, Madipakkam, Tambaram and Mudichur localities, where water had reached up to the first floor.

A total of 28 NDRF teams with over 1,200 personnel were deployed in Chennai where they rescued around 5,000 marooned people by deploying over 110 boats. Two NDRF teams were deployed in Puducherry.

Air Force personnel dropped food packets providing succour to the distressed people living on roof tops after floods displaced them from their homes. A total of 14 lakh food packets were distributed, Tamil Nadu government said.

255 Navy personnel were pressed into service with 12 boats and 15 helicopters for reaching relief.

Heavy rain continued to lash coastal Cuddalore district, one of the worst affected areas ever since northeast monsoon fury started early last month, and Villupuram and Kanyakumari districts and Puducherry as the death toll in the state mounted to 269.

Chennai will remain overcast with possibility of intermittent rains. Fishermen have been warned not to go to sea, Area Cyclone Warning Centre Director SR Ramanan told reporters.

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