Tamil Nadu is witnessing the worst rains in the last 100 years and fresh spells since Tuesday have made matters worse and brought life to a standstill in the state.
Non-stop torrential rains since Tuesday pounded several parts of Chennai, its suburbs and Puducherry triggering a massive deluge. Army, Navy and NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams have been deployed to carry out rescue work on a war footing.
The rains have broken a 100-year-old record with one day’s rainfall covering a month’s average. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke to CM Jayalalithaa and assured her of all help from the Centre in dealing with the crisis.
On Wednesday morning, the PM was also briefed by his cabinet ministers regarding the situation on the ground.
What’s worse is that the Met department has predicted very heavy rains in the next four days.
Chennai airport has been also been shut until Thursday 6 am. As many as 3500 people, including 1500 passengers were said to be stranded at the airport on Wednesday morning, which the Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials were hoping to evacuate by the evening.
Though the rains showed some let up on Wednesday morning, the inundated streets left commuters stranded. Flight operations, train services and local transportation were severely hit. The fresh spell of rain forced the CM to defer school exams and shut schools in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.
Two columns of Army’s Garrison Infantry Battalion have been pressed into service in Tambaram and Oorapakkam. Navy personnel were deployed in Sadiapet area of Chennai to rescue people marooned in low-lying areas.
“More Army personnel are coming to Chennai from Bengaluru,” a Defence Public Relations official said adding “they have already left for Chennai.”
The NDRF is rushing about 600 personnel for rescue and relief work. As the Chennai airport and nearby landing facilities are shut down, 15 teams airlifted from Bhubaneswar and Delhi by the IAF, will be landing at the ‘INS Rajali’ airbase in Arakkonam, about 60 km west of Chennai, said NDRF chief OP Singh.
The NDRF DIG and a commanding officer have also been stationed in Chennai to take stock of the operations, Singh explained.
Most areas of Chennai which have already been lashed by rains for over a fortnight, went under water severely disrupting normal life. Vadapalani, Valasaravakkam and Nandamvakkam are some of the severely flooded areas as the nearby lakes overflowed into the city. Areas near Tambaram and Mudichur too suffered as the Chembarakam lake overflowed and an unprecedented 26,000 cusecs of water was released which completely inundated the downstream areas.
People complained of water entering their homes and most of the city went without power on Tuesday as the supply was cut off as a safety precaution.
Over 180 people have died in rain-related incidents in Tamil Nadu, in the last few months.
(With inputs from PTI)