Chennai |Rains abated in Chennai Thursday giving relief to people tormented by the heavy downpour of the last three days but excessive discharge of water last night from Chembarambakkam lake on the outskirts flooded new areas of the city threatening to uproot people from their homes.
Excessive water from Aliyar Dam also was released today. The reservoir is located on the foothills of Valparai, in the Anamalai range of the Western Ghats. Residents living on the shores of Bharathappuzha and Chitturpuzha have been advised to remain alert after the Aliyar dam shutters were opened.
Teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), army, navy and commandos of police and fire service personnel were deployed for rescue and relief works in the worst-affected areas of Kotturpuram, Jafferkhanpet and Nandanam on the banks of the Adyar river. For the first time in over 40 years, the water has risen rapidly on the river breaching the road and the Maraimalai Adigal bridge in Saidapet cutting the arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road), rendering it out of bounds for motorists. Though there has been no rain since last night, the release of an estimated 30,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, one of city’s sources of drinking water, caused fresh flooding in areas like Kodambakkam and T.Nagar and Ashok Nagar.
The sky is overcast without any fresh rainfall and people are worried about the forecast of showers over the next three days. Chief Minister Jayalaliathaa is likely to make an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas of Chennai and its suburbs and the neighboring districts of Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram. Milk and other essentials like vegetables are in short supply. A half-liter packet of milk was being sold at Rs.50 in many areas. Diesel and petrol are in short supply and there are long queues of motorists at the few number of petrol pumps that supply them. Over 50,000 people have been rescued from flooded homes in various areas and lodged in relief centers opened by the Chennai Corporation. The Air Force and Army are said to be rushing in with supplies for the people in distress.
NDRF Director General O P Singh said the force will intensify its operations in the affected areas from today as more of its men are being deployed on the ground. He said over 100 boats, 22 divers, 445 life jackets and 328 buoys have been pressed in by the force and more such rescue items are being dispatched. The force has already tasked two DIG rank officers and a Commandant in Chennai to oversee operations in the affected areas. A Navy official involved in the rescue efforts said that an aircraft is going to evict people stranded at the civil airport by building an air bridge between Meenambakam civil airport at Chennai and Arakkonam so that maximum people will be transferred to Arakkonam.
The Airport Authority of India had late last night announced that Chennai airport will remain shut till December 6 in the wake of the downpour and predictions of more rains.
The death toll in the rains that have lashed the city and other parts of state has gone up to 197, officials said. All modes of transport–air, road and rail services– have been hit due to the unprecedented deluge, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the airport and various rail terminals. Adding to the worry of the citizens and administration, the weatherman has forecast more rainfall under the influence of a trough of low pressure and upper air circulation over the southwest Bay of Bengal and Sri Lankan coast. Thereafter, the state will see an anti-cyclone activity which will be associated with heavy rains at some places.
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