Chennai: Rainwater receding, but challenges remain

Limitations of infrastructure, particularly stormwater drain network, come to the fore

CHENNAI: Heavy rain for nearly two days, some areas better off, some still under water and residents struggling to come to terms with the aftermath. This sums up the impact of the first major spell of this year’s northeast monsoon in the city.

With the monsoon set to be active for the next few weeks, there are more challenges to be met as the limitations of the infrastructure, particularly the stormwater drain network, came to the fore since the heavy rain began on Friday.

The rainfall during the 24-hour period ending 8.30 a.m. on Sunday was 123.3 mm in Nungambakkam and 132.5 mm in Meenambakkam. But in the next 12 hours the two observatories recorded only 5.8 mm and 6 mm respectively, which proved to be a saving grace.

Steering to safety: Firemen rescuing marooned residents of Vyasarpadi on Sunday.— Photo: M.Vedhan

According to the Meteorology Department, the low-pressure area over Cape Comorin has moved and now lies over Lakshadweep and its neighbourhood. “We can expect a gradual decrease in rain for the time being. On Monday, a few spells of rain or thundershowers are likely in the city,” an official said.

Playing it safe and given the fact that many of the residential areas continue to be inundated, a number of private schools have declared a holiday on Monday.

The areas where roads were waterlogged on Sunday include Ayanavaram, Otteri, Velachery, Karapakkam and Vyasarpadi.

But in most areas, the emphasis was on rescue operations. In areas near Vyasarpadi Jeeva railway station, Fire and Rescue Service personnel used inflatable boats to shift around 200 persons from inundated localities.

Apart from seeking solutions for the inundation, residents questioned the timing of agencies to take up improvement work, such as that on Taramani Link Road. They also blamed the encroachments in canals and water bodies for the situation.

Virugambakkam resident C.V. Krishnan said many in the area worried about flooding of Virugambakkam Canal. “We are waiting and watching with great apprehension as to what will happen now.”

In a sign of things ahead, the Corporation on Sunday transported catamarans to waterlogged areas of west Velachery such as AGS Colony. Fire tenders with inflatable boats have been stationed for 24 hours in 13 places, including Ram Nagar in Velachery, Kargil Nagar in Tiruvottiyur, CTO Colony in Tambaram, Ranjit Street in Kotturpuram, Koyambedu bus terminus, Haddows Road in Egmore and Valluvar Kottam.

Traffic snarls near the Vadapalani and Koyambedu junctions due to the waterlogged roads marred the holiday mood for many. But the residents of Vadapalani, Saligramam and Virugambakkam were relieved to see the receding water level on the roads soon after the rains became intermittent from Sunday morning.

But in Ambattur, water from C.T.H. Road overflowed on to the streets and complaints to the Municipal officials did not elicit any response, said T. Gunaseelan of Varadharajapuram.

C.G. Mercylin, an industrialist in Mogappair, said that several roads in the area were inundated. The Ambattur Municipality had desilted a small portion of stormwater drains on Saturday on Wavin Road but with more rain predicted waterlogged roads in Mogappair Industrial Estate are inevitable, he said.

Despite the culvert below the Kadapa Road in Kolathur, which is the main link between the city and Ambattur, Madhavaram and Retteri, rainwater continues to flood the road. Residents here said they worried about driving after dark as there were no street lights.

Trees fall

Heavy rain on Saturday night also resulted in a spate of incidents in which trees crashed onto cars. A survey of the weak and dead trees would have prevented the accidents, eye witnesses said.

A dead tree fell on a moving car on Cenotaph Road and slowed down traffic for sometime. All four occupants of the vehicle escaped with minor injuries.

In another incident, in Golden Jubilee apartment complex on Padi Kuppam Road, Anna Nagar, a Gulmohar tree fell on a parked car. A tree on 5th Avenue in Anna Nagar was uprooted on Saturday morning. A resident said that had the Corporation pruned the trees before the onset of the monsoon, the 50-year old tree could have been saved.

Water supply

Chennai Metrowater officials said the rainfall in the last 24 hours had brought in inflow into reservoirs enough to supply water more than a fortnight. But, it would take several days of heavy rain before the reservoirs reach their full capacity. The agency has doubled the level of chlorination in water distribution stations.

The agency’s sewage pumping stations are currently taking in an additional load of rainwater along with sewage. In an effort to prevent spread of water-borne diseases, Metrowater has increased chlorination of water from its distribution stations. The agency has made available chlorine tablets in its depots for public use.

Chennai Corporation also distributed 35,533 chlorine tablets in areas such as K.M. Garden, Royapettah, Vyasarpadi, Tondiarpet and Perambur where water had stagnated. One tablet can be used for 20 litres of water. It also undertook patch work on 160 major roads.

Commuters had to contend with autorickshaw drivers who demanded exorbitant rates to carry passengers short stretches.

Kancheepuram

In Kancheepuram, Collector Santosh K. Misra visited flood-prone areas of Orikkai and Thirukalimedu.

Residents of Orikkai, a hamlet on the southern outskirts, said rainwater had entered their houses, as the inflow into the nearby Orikkai Lake had increased. Mr. Misra directed the village panchayat president and officials to create stormwater drain facility in the area.

(With inputs from R. Sujatha, K. Lakshmi, S. Aishwarya, Ajai Sreevatsan, T. Madhavan, K. Manikandan, Petlee Peter, Deepa H. Ramakrishnan and V. Venkatasubramanian)

From THE HINDU

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