Chennai picks up pieces of life

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Dec 2015 14:05:49

People looking for drinking water after several areas inundated in Chennai due to rainfall on Friday. (PTI)



WITH receding waters, Chennai city and suburbs on Friday battled hard to pick up pieces of life but occasional heavy rains threatened to revive the ghost of flooding as lakhs of people in the worst-hit areas faced acute short supply of essentials including water, power, milk and food items.
Tragedy stuck a noted private hospital when 18 patients were said to have lost their lives when a sudden black out on Wednesday caused snapping of oxygen supply in the ICU.
However, top Tamil Nadu officials gave a confusing explanation for the tragedy at one time not all deaths took place because of lack of oxygen or failure of ventilator. On one occasion, officials said the hospital abandoned its patients while at another they said the government did all its best to keep up services in private hospital also. Chief Secretary Gnanadesikan said the deaths will be probed.
Anger spilled on to the streets when senior ministers Natham Viswanathan, Sellur Raju and Gokul Indira visited R K Nagar, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s constituency, where people gheraoed and heckled them forcing them to make a hasty retreat.
Later at an official press conference in the Secretariat, the first in recent days, Power Minister Natham Viswanathan and Chief Secretary Gnanadesikan claimed that relief and rescue works were in full swing and were “extraordinary”. The minister described the Opposition criticism of relief works as politically motivated with an eye on Assembly elections early next year. He claimed people even in the worst-affected areas refuse to leave their homes but accept only food relief supplied by official agencies.
Similar scenes were witnessed in several areas where people ventilated their anger at officials complaining lack of any help from authorities in their hour of distress. Intermittent rains, occasionally heavy, in the city in areas like Kodambakkam, T. Nagar, Adyar and Kotturpuram and suburban Tambaram on Friday threatened to revive the ghost of flooding again but the weatherman has forecast only light rains for Chennai in the next 24 hours. Heavy to very heavy rains have been forecast for south coastal and interior districts and Puducherry.
Arterial Mount Road and several other important roads were opened for traffic on Friday after three days of disruption bringing a slight sense of normalcy as water levels in Adyar and Cooum rivers and other channels came down following reduced
discharge of water from Chembarambakkam, Puzhal and Poondi, and Red Hills rivers dotting the city’s outskirts.
Public Works Secretary Palaniappan said discharge from Chembarambakkam has gradually come down to 3,500 cusecs from a high of 29,000 cusecs a couple of days ago. Similarly, other lakhs have also slowed down their discharge.
Late in the evening, there was panic as people went running for cover in rain following reports that Chembarakkam reservoir has breached. But the Chief Secretary said it was only a rumour.
Mobile phone services, which had taken a severe beating following the heavy downpour on Tuesday, were partially restored even as other services such as ATMs continued to remain shut.
The Chief Secretary said telephone service providers have been asked to restore services immediately and TANGEDCO will provide power for towers that have collapsed.
After a day-long dry spell on Thursday, some areas in and around the city showers in the night but Friday morning saw some bright skies with people out on the streets.
Though 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. Safe drinking water continued to remain a luxury for many.
Milk supplies were erratic and many citizens complained that vegetables were still being sold at high rates. While supply of state-run Aavin-milk packets were totally hit, a packet of one litre milk sold by private suppliers was priced at Rs 90, whereas 1 kg tomato was available at Rs 80/90. Transport services were also showing signs of picking up.
Limited commercial flight operations have started this 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.
The Chennai Metro line continued to witness enhanced patronage in the wake of suspension of bus and rail transport.
Personnel of the army, navy and air force were deployed in the worst-affected areas rescuing people and reaching relief to the victims of nature’s unprecedented fury in the city and the suburbs.
The NDRF on Friday intensified its relief and rescue operations in Chennai and its adjoining areas as it added 20 more teams for the job and rescued over 10,000 people till now.
Director General of the force, O P Singh, will also travel to the state to review the operations and effectively monitor these activities.
The DG said here that his teams are expected to rescue and reach out to more number of people on Friday as the water has receded in some places and power has been restored.
“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 Friday night would be 50. We expect to have better results on Friday as things have improved and rains have stopped over the last night,” he said.
An official NDRF spokesperson said that by 1 PM a total of 10,589 people were moved to safer places by the teams.
“The teams also distributed 1,400 food packets and 2,300 water packets in the areas of Manali, Kuttapuram and Global health city,” the spokesperson added.

Chennai airport to resume partial flight operations today

CHENNAI airport, where operations were suspended till Sunday in the wake of floods, will partially resume flight operations from Saturday morning with the runway found to be safe for landings and departures.
“Flight operations from Chennai airport will resume partially from tomorrow. The flights will operate during the day time,” Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman R K Srivastava told PTI.
The airport would open at 6 AM and flights would operate till day light is there, he said.
The runway has been cleared for operations after inspections by officials and experts, another AAI official said.
On December 2, AAI had announced that the airport would be shut till December 6 after heavy rains caused flooding of the runway and nearby operational areas.
“Chennai Aerodrome has been closed up to 12 noon of the December 6, 2015. The situation is being closely monitored and any further action will be taken subject to review for resumption of services as soon as possible,” the AAI, which runs the airport, had said on December 2.
On an average, Chennai airport handles 320 landings and departures. As many as 20 international airlines operates from Chennai airport apart from most of the domestic carriers.

Popular temples escape flooding

LEADING temples here have escaped the flood crisis.
The Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore in south Chennai was not flooded although many parts of the area was on Wednesday and Thursday, an official of the popular temple said. According to him, the nearby Kesava Perumal temple also escaped the flooding which has caused widespread destruction in Chennai and three more districts in Tamil Nadu.
The huge tank outside the Parthasarathyswamy temple in Triplicane here got a good volume of rain water but the temple saw no flooding, a resident told IANS.