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TN: Monsoon Rain Brings Misery to Chennai and Delta Districts

Neelambaran A |
Ruling DMK and opposition AIADMK are currently embattled in a blame game over who is responsible for the prevailing state of affairs, as the flooding brings back haunting memories of the 2015 floods which left lasting damage to the city.
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Chief Minister MK Stalin visiting flooded areas (Courtesy: Twitter, @mkstalin)

The weather system in the Bay of Bengal crossed between Tamil Nadu and South Andhra Pradesh on the evening of November 11, after a week of continuous rainfall. Chennai bore the brunt of the rain with hundreds of residential areas and hospitals suffering from water stagnation for the last 5 days.

The delta districts received heavy rainfall leaving 1.5 lakh acres of Samba crops inundated underwater. Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Nilgiris and many other districts too recorded severe rainfall leading to water logs and damages to houses.

A total of 229 relief camps have been set up across the state to accommodate around 12,000 people.

Since the onset of the northeast monsoon 38 people have died due to rain-related incidents.

Operations in the Chennai international airport came to a halt in the afternoon of November 12, resulting in the cancellation of 68 flights. Environmental activists and political parties have attributed the lack of proper stormwater drains and ill-conceived smart city works for the severe water stagnation. The ruling and opposition parties traded charges against each other for the prevailing state of affairs.

A WEEK UNDER WATER

The weather system in the Bengal sea brought heavy rainfall to Tamil Nadu, with Chennai and surrounding districts receiving continuous rain from Monday. Chennai received 77% of the normal rainfall expected during November in the northeast monsoon.

When the depression made landfall, wind speeds between 45 kmph to 55 kmph were recorded, with wind gusting up to 65 kmph. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has deployed fishing boats to ensure evacuation and distribute relief materials.

Areas like Velacheri, KK Nagar, Pattalam are still underwater. However, the rains have stopped bringing a huge relief to the people of Chennai.

In the city, 7 subways are still closed due to stagnation, while water was cleared from 16 other subways which are now open for traffic. Around 20 roads are inundated with 2-3 feet of water, but traffic has not been stopped.

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One of the several roads which caved in around Chennai due to rains (Courtesy: DT Next)

Residential areas in Kolathur, the constituency of the chief minister, are still underwater with workers trying to drain the stagnated water. Power has not been restored in the area. Residents of Mudichur area are being evacuated after water stagnation continues for 5 days.

Fire and rescue personnel, police, staff of Tamil Nadu Electricity Generation, Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), GCC and several volunteer groups were working round the clock to reduce the impact of waterlogging, restoration of electricity and supply of food and relief materials. The sanitation workers had their task cut out with several drainages being clogged with plastic wages, blocking the flow of water.

More than 500 small and medium industries in the Ambattur industrial estate suffered damage to machinery with sewage mixed water entering the estate. The entrepreneurs alleged the blockage of canals to the Korattur lake as the reason for the stagnation.

Volunteers of DYFI in relief works (Courtesy: DYFI Tamil Nadu)

Volunteers of DYFI in relief works (Courtesy: DYFI Tamil Nadu)

ACTIVISTS POINT TO POOR PLANNING

The flooding brought back haunting memories of the 2015 floods which left lasting damage to the city. Though the situation was not as severe as it was in 2015, the civil society and environment activists blamed the government for not learning from the previous incidents.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) accused each other of being responsible for the city's poor stormwater drainage system.

While the DMK accused the previous AIADMK regime of corrupt practices in projects including smart cities, the AIADMK alleged that the DMK government was not prepared to face the monsoon.

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People walking through waist-deep water in Kovilambakkam (Courtesy: The Weather Channel India)

Ironically, the places where new drainages were constructed as part of the smart city project suffered massive water stagnation, which was not the case in 2015. Areas like Pondy Bazar and T Nagar reported water stagnation in the residential areas and important roads.

Environmental activists and water management experts have pointed out the damages done to natural water canals around the city and the poor planning as the reasons for the flooding. The chief minister has announced that after the monsoon, the government will work on a plan to find a permanent solution for the stagnation woes of the city.

DELTA DISTRICTS SUFFER CROP DAMAGE

The delta districts have reported severe crop damage to the extent of 1.6 lakh acres. The state government has constituted a committee of six ministers to study the crop loss in the districts. Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Mayiladushurai and Pudukkotai reported severe damage to Samba crops.

The farmers of the region have sowed for the samba season a few weeks back. With water stagnation continuing for more than a week, the crops are not expected to survive. The All India Kisan Sabha's (AIKS) state unit has urged the state government to ensure cash reliefs are ensured for the farmers.

Hundreds of houses were damaged and trees were uprooted in parts of Kanyakumari as the district received heavy rains overnight on November 11.

Rivers in dams across most of the districts are overflowing, owing to the continuous rains.

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