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Chennai rains resume after day of sunshine

Met forecast said the next 24 hours could see heavy rain.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2017 23:09 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Chennai rains,Tamil nadu,Chennai
People walk through a flooded area of Marina Beach after heavy rains in Chennai on November 3, 2017. (AFP Photo)

Bright sunshine greeted Chennai on Friday, after heavy rains in the city and most parts of the state Thursday night, but the showers resumed in the evening.

Vast areas of the coastal belt of the state remained flooded and more heavy showers are forecast for Saturday. Another death was reported after a farmer stepped on a submerged live wire. Two eight-year-old girls in a Chennai locality died after they were electrocuted the day before.

Schools were shut for the fourth straight day and all scheduled semester examinations of Anna University and Madras University were postponed.

S Balachandran, a senior weather department official, said the next 24 hours could see heavy rain, even as Chennai residents hoped that they wouldn’t see a repeat of 2015 when floods ravaged the city.

Voluntary groups worked with rescue teams to provide food, water and shelter to those stranded by the rain and floods. Anger mounted in flooded areas as people accused the government of tardy relief work.

The situation in Pallaikarani in southern Chennai, one of the worst affected areas during the 2015 floods, was similar to the horror the residents faced two years ago.

“We have seen no one, no government official or minister in our area,” V Srinivasan, a resident told a private television channel.

In the north of the city, retired government official KV Ramakrishna echoed those sentiments. “It doesn’t matter which government is there, DMK or AIADMK. For us, the people, the problem remains the same,” he said.

A storm that swept through Tamil Nadu from the Bay of Bengal brought heavy rain for the past three days. Rainwater flowed into houses, streets and entire localities were waterlogged, and overhead electricity cables snapped.

Chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami and his deputy, O Panneerselvam, led a team to Pallaikarani on Friday to review the situation as residents struggled in knee-deep water.

They visited five localities and told reporters that officials were working round-the-clock to pump out rainwater that has accumulated in low-lying areas after Chennai received 36cm of rain over three days.

The chief minister dismissed allegations that the government had done little to desilt lakes and waterways. He said the “storage capacity of lakes has increased 30% “because of the desilting” operation taken up after the 2015 floods, which were the worst to hit Chennai for almost a century.

State fisheries minister D Jayakumar also said “98% of the work has been done” and “we are capable of taking care of” the waterlogging.

People living in flooded homes were not convinced.

S Ciba, a software professional in Madipakkam, said his house was surrounded by waist-deep water. “They may have done all the work they are claiming, but here you can see for yourself that it has been a total failure.”

The fear of diseases lurked too as overflowing sewage mixed with the rainwater.

The government has not learnt any lessons from the 2015 floods, environmentalists said. Environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman warned of worse to come. “The first rains of the northeast monsoon drowned Chennai.”

Chennai struggles with flooding every year. Unabated construction on floodplains and coastal areas, and storm-water drains and waterways clogged by plastic garbage and silt, have made the city increasingly vulnerable to floods, the environmentalists added.

First Published: Nov 03, 2017 22:31 IST