Relief and rescue work was stopped on Saturday in suburban Chennai after fresh showers hit the city which is grappling with the aftermath of deadly floods that have left thousands homeless.
Intermittent rain in places like Kodambakkam, T Nagar, Adyar and Kotturpuram and suburban Tambaram in the morning posed a threat of flood again, but the weather office has predicted light showers only.
Chennai airport, which had suspended operations due to flooding, is likely to resume technical ferry and relief flights on Saturday though commercial flight services will not start as of now.
“Commercial flight services cannot start at Chennai airport as of now, we should give it two days,” Mahesh Sharma, minister of state for civil aviation, said.
To clear stranded passengers, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had planned to start limited operations from the Chennai airport from Saturday.
“Once power supply is restored and water evacuation happens, we can restart commercial flight services,” Sharma said.
The Met office had withdrawn its warning of heavy rains in the city on Friday but heavy to very heavy rains have been forecast for south coastal and interior districts and Puducherry.
Nearly 11 lakh people have been rescued so far in Tamil Nadu in one of the biggest relief operations carried out by the largest contingent of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, nine columns of the Indian Army and state disaster response teams. People in many localities claimed that the local administration did not adequately address their problems.
Limping to normalcy
Flood-ravaged Chennai is struggling to return to normalcy with partial restoration of telecommunication and train services. Some of the roads had become fairly motorable even as waterlogging woes continued in several areas.
In its bid to link the southern parts of Chennai with the main city, Southern Railway announced operating services on the busy Egmore-Tamabaram stretch bringing much needed relief to the residents.
Although services are generally operated between Chennai beach and Tamabaram, trains are now being operated only between Egmore and Tamabaram and that too only on the main line, southern railway officials said.
Power has been restored in many parts of the city and telephone network too has improved a bit as compared to last few days. In many places, including Tamabaram, telephone landline services were being restored and mobile services also picked up pace. But in many areas networks continue to remain weak and phone lines clogged.
The situation remained tough for thousands living in low lying areas that are still having knee- to waist deep waters.
Shortage of food, water
Waterlogging continued in many parts such as Kotturpuram, suburban Mudichur and Pallikkaranai even as hapless residents, who had taken refuge on higher floors of buildings, were seen pleading for essentials like milk and water which remain in short supply.
There were serpentine queues outside the few ATMs and petrol stations that were operating. Tamil Nadu government has said that the fuel situation will ease in the next couple of days. Banks in the state will remain open this Sunday as well.
Food and water is being distributed by army soldiers as well as hundreds of volunteers of NGOs and well meaning individuals who are pitching in by supplying the essentials to the flood-hit residents.
Supply of milk continued to remain erratic although state-run Aavin had taken steps to ensure adequate supply of the essential commodity. Vegetables continued to remain costly.
The biggest problem continues to be stagnant water in several low lying areas, making the life of residents miserable.
Rains lashed a few parts of the city overnight but there was a let up in the morning though the sky remained overcast.
As many parts of the city and its neighbourhood were still reeling from power suspension, false rumours of breach in Chembarapakkam lake on Friday night kept people living on its bank on tenterhooks. Police later informed that these were mere rumours and that there was no need to panic.
Torrential showers have nearly 250 dead and thousands homeless in Tamil Nadu. About 350,000 people have been rescued so far by defence and disaster response personnel, officials said, but thousands remain marooned in parts of the state with food and drinking water in short supply.
The situation took a turn for the worse on Tuesday with large areas of the city flooded. The deluge destroyed crucial road and rail links, shut down the airport, snapped power and telecom lines and left many of people stranded.
(With agency inputs)