Relief and rescue operations in rain-hit Chennai got a fillip after a relative dry spell in the capital city and the adjoining areas on Friday. Though, some parts received heavy showers but by and large it was a good day for the rescue agencies as flood waters receded from the parts of Chennai, which has been devastated by heavy torrential rains. More than 270 people have been confirmed killed and thousands have been left displaced.
According to the authorities, mobile phone services were partially restored, but electricity and ATM services are still down. All these services have taken a severe hit after heavy rains followed by the flooding.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) intensified its relief and rescue operations on Friday adding 20 more teams in its fleet. So far, the NDRF has rescued over 10,000 people from Chennai and the adjoining areas. Director General of the force, OP Singh, is also slated to travel to the state to review the operations and effectively monitor these activities.
“We have rescued more than 10,000 people till now. 20 more teams from various locations have been mobilised to Tamil Nadu and the total strength of the NDRF by tonight would be 50. We expect to have better results today as things have improved and rains have stopped over the last night,” DG NDRF said.
The force already has 30 teams, with 40 personnel in each, working in the affected areas of the Tamil Nadu capital and adjoining Puducherry.
After a day-long dry spell on Thursday, some areas in and around the city including Kodambakkam, T Nagar and Tambaram received showers in the night but morning saw some bright skies resulting in a sharp fall in the discharge of waters from Chembarapakkam, Pondi and Puzhal lakes leading to reduction in the water levels of the two rivers that criss-cross the city.
Though the water was receding in many parts of the city the misery of citizens showed little let up as power remained suspended in many areas as a precautionary measure, officials said, adding safe drinking water continued to remain a luxury for many. Milk and newspaper supplies too had taken a hit.
Whereas, transport services showed signs of picking up with limited commercial flight operations starting Friday morning from the Rajali naval air station in Arakkonam near Chennai. Train services on the suburban Chennai Arakonnam stretch were partially restored. Southern Railway officials said they were yet to take a call on restoration of services on the other busy Tambaram-Chennai beach route which covers both business and residential areas.
Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Thursday conducted aerial surveys of the areas battered by the unprecedented rains. The Prime Minister had also announced Rs 1000 crore more for the rescue and relief work.
A meeting of the Crisis Management Group (CMG) was also held under the Chairmanship of Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to review the preparedness of the agencies along with officials of Ministries of Defence, Food, Railways, Agriculture, Health, Department of Telecommunications, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
The NDRF has also activated helpline number at its control room — 011-24363260, 09711077372 and the Twitter handle ‘@NDRFHQ‘, given lot of people are taking to social media to aid and monitor the relief work.
(With inputs from the PTI)