Guwahati flooded, troopers deployed to rescue residents

GUWAHATI: Authorities on Tuesday deployed paramilitary troopers to carry out rescue operations in Assam’s main city of Guwahati hit by massive flooding, triggered by heavy rains since Sunday.

Troopers of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), using rubber boats and rafts, rescued more than 200 people from various city areas reeling under waist deep water.

“We have already rescued scores of people trapped inside homes filled with water, mud, and slush and we are on the lookout for more who could be desperately looking for help,” Anil Chauhan, NRDF commander, told IANS.

Heavy rains accompanied by cyclonic storm in the past two days crippled normal life in most parts of Assam, especially in the state’s main city of Guwahati with several areas submerged – the worst hit being Lachit Nagar, Rajgarh, Zoo Road, Nabin Nagar, Hengarabari, and G.S. Road areas.

Guwahati recorded 80.4 mm rainfall since Monday with forecast of more rain accompanied by thundershowers on Wednesday and Thursday.

“This is the worst ever flooding in the city in recent memory with rainwater flooding the better part of our ground floor,” said Nanda Das, a college teacher.

The situation has further compounded with mud and slush blocking the city’s drainage system.

“There is no outlet for the water to go and hence the artificial flooding caused,” a municipal corporation official said.

“We were unable to send our children to school, while we are running out of essentials as there is no way we can move out of our homes,” said Bimala Hazarika, a housewife.

The rafts used by the NDRF came as a succour to the marooned people with many residents venturing out of their homes to buy medicines and food.

“With more rains likely, the situation would further worsen,” Chauhan said.

From TOI

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Floods, protest in AP erode UltraTech net 18%

The massive floods in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka coupled with the Telangana protests hit UltraTech Cement’s bottomline in the third quarter of this fiscal.

Despite a sharp fall in power and fuel costs, the company reported an 18 per cent drop in net profit at Rs 196 crore in the quarter ended December 31 against Rs 238 crore in the same period last year.

Mr K. C. Birla, Executive President and Chief Financial Officer, UltraTech Cement, said the profitability was impacted by the sharp drop in demand in the southern region which contributes about 30 per cent of the company’s sales.

“Notwithstanding the fall in demand, price realisation was hit by new capacity addition of 21 million tonnes in the southern States in the last nine months,” he said.

Demand for cement in the southern region, which includes Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, grew 3.9 per cent against the industry average of 10.4 per cent in the December quarter, while Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka registered a demand growth of tonnes. Domestic sales rose 12 per cent to 4.34 3.88 mt.

Power and fuel expenses nearly halved to Rs 366 crore (Rs 633 crore) on the back of commissioning of new thermal power plants at various locations.

Domestic price realisation for UltraTech grew 6 per cent to Rs 176 for a 50-kg bag (Rs 166) in the quarter under review. Realisation from clinker exports was down 36 per cent at $32 a tonne (f.o.b.).

From THE HINDU BUSINESS LINE

Madurai: Flood threat: fire brigade on alert mode

MADURAI: Fire and Rescue Service personnel have been put on alert in the district following flood warning issued along the banks of Vaigai river.

District Fire Officer C. Thooyamani said that over 200 personnel in nine fire stations in the district would be engaged. Besides, 20 commandos would be on round-the-clock duty. “We have identified areas prone to flood and trained our people on rescue operations.” A rubber boat has been kept ready to be used in the Vaigai where the flow of water has increased following release from the Vaigai dam since Sunday.

The firemen have been equipped with power saw and generator to remove trees that fall on the road. Other things such as lights, cutter, stretcher and tools to rescue vehicles have been kept ready.

From THE HINDU

Kattappana: Mullaperiyar level touches 134.6 ft

If the water level touches 136 ft, water will be released into Idukki reservoir

People in nearby grama panchayat limits alerted

Officials to submit plan of action to Collector

KATTAPPANA: The water level in the Mullaperiyar dam rose to 134.6 ft on Monday in the previous day’s rain in the catchment area on the border with Tamil Nadu. The highest maintained water level is 136 ft.

On Sunday, the water level was 134 ft. If it touches 136 ft, water will be released through the Periyar into the Idukki reservoir.

The water level in the Idukki reservoir was 2,377.18, a 0.3-ft rise from the previous day’s level. The rainfall recorded in the area was 9.6 mm. The water level on the corresponding day last year was 2,358.44 ft.

A senior official at the Dam Monitoring Cell at Cheruthoni told The Hindu on Monday that the reservoir was 70.98 per cent full. Hence, if water was released from the Mullaperiyar dam, the reservoir could hold the inflow.

He said the Moolamattom power plant generated less electricity than normal because the generators were being repaired and power consumption fell during the monsoon.

The official said the rainfall recorded in the catchment area of Idukki was below normal on Monday. The preliminary data were of the precipitation till noon. “However, since the northeast monsoon started, the rainfall recorded in the catchment area changes considerably in the afternoon,” he said.

Meeting

A meeting of the village officers, the police and the Fire and Rescue Services officials, representatives of the grama panchayat and the Mullaperiyar Samara Samithi, which is leading an agitation demanding a new dam, was held at the taluk office in Peerumade on Monday to take stock of the situation and discuss the preparations to be made in case water is released from the Mullaperiyar dam. The proposals made at the meeting will be submitted to the District Collector.

The officials made announcements through loudspeakers in the Upputhara, the Chappathu and the Vandiperiyar grama panchayat limits, asking people to remain alert.

A top official of the revenue department said that a control room would be opened when the water level reaches 135 ft.

“A plan of action will be submitted to the District Collector and additional safety measures, such as installation of lamps and sirens in the affected areas, will be taken,” he said.

From THE HINDU

Cuddalore: New Veeranam project will avert flooding

CUDDALORE: The New Veeranam Project, estimated to cost Rs.23 crore, has been drafted to ensure the stability of the Veeranam tank and also to avert flooding in the ayacut areas, according to P.Seetharaman, District Collector.

Addressing a press conference here today on the preparedness of the administration to tackle the cyclone and flood situation in district the Collector said that the new project envisaged repairing and replacing of the damaged sluices, reinforcing the bunds, and, clearing the inlet and outlet channels of the outgrowths and other encroachments.

Based on deliberations with the stakeholders on the safety of the tank it had been decided to maintain the water level at 43.9 ft (maximum 47.5 ft). Therefore, the entire inflow of 3000 cusecs of water, realized through the Sengal Odai and the Karuvatti Odai, was being discharged.

However, to prevent flooding in the downstream the outflow through the Velliyangal Odai had been reduced from 500 cusecs to 250 cusecs to allay the fears of the ayacutdars about the possible inundation of the crops. Moreover, a portion of the excesses too was being drained in the Vellar.

A canal for a length of 5.5 km had been dug up to safely carry the water pumped out from the Neyveli Lignite Corporation mines. Earlier, the Paravanar fed by the water from the mines used to breach its course and inflict heavy damage to the standing crops.

The Collector also stated that of the 296 water sources in the district 198 were filled to the brim. In 50,000 hectares under samba crops the transplantation process was completed in 45,000 ha but if the rain continued the seedlings would perish. Water hyacinth choking the waterways in Chidambaram block were being removed.

According to a preliminary estimate about 57 villages in the district—21 in Cuddalore, 13 in Kattumannarkoil, 12 in Chidambaram, five in Vriddhachalam and three in Panruti– were facing the threat of inundation.

Cyclone shelters

Mr.Seetharaman observed that all the 21 cyclone shelters—13 in Chidambaram block and eight in Cuddalore block—had been kept in readiness to accommodate those who might get displaced by natural disasters.

A buffer stock of 818 tonnes of rice was kept ready (stored in at least 237 fair price shops in the vulnerable areas) to feed the people during exigency.

Rescue boats and fire service personnel had been on the alert to evict the people from the areas likely to be affected by flood.

An infantry battalion had been kept ready in the Secundarabad barracks and whenever warranted they would move in, the Collector added.

From THE HINDU

Theni: PWD issues first flood warning to five districts

THENI: Public Works Department engineers issued the first flood warning for Dindigul, Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts as water level in Vaigai dam touched 66 feet at 4 p.m. on Monday

People residing along the river banks had been asked to move to places of safety.

The second flood warning will be issued when the level touches 68.5 feet and the third and final warning will be issued and excess water released from the dam simultaneously when the level crosses 69.5 feet. Water level crossed 65.8 feet in the afternoon. Heavy flow in major rivers such as Vaigai, Kottakudi and Mullaperiyar rivers has also increased inflow to the dam.

Periyar dam has also been receiving large quantum of water in the past two days. Inflow of 11,788 cusecs has increased the storage level to 129.9 feet (permissible level 136 feet) on Tuesday afternoon. However, discharge was restricted at 1,088 cusecs only.

From THE HINDU

Indian engineer ‘builds’ new glaciers to halt global warming

LONDON – A retired Indian engineer has claimed to have “built” 12 new glaciers, in an effort to stop global warming melting away the Himalayan glaciers.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Chewang Norphel, 76, has said that he “built” 12 new glaciers already and is racing to create five more before he dies.

By then, he hopes he will have trained enough new “icemen” to continue his work and save the world’s “third icecap” from being transformed into rivers.

The great Himalayan glaciers, including Kashmir’s Siachen glacier, feed the region’s most important rivers, which irrigate farm land in Tibet, Nepal, Bangladesh and throughout the Indian sub-continent.

The apparent acceleration in glacial melting has been blamed for the increase in floods which have destroyed homes and crops.

Chewang Norphel, the “Iceman of Ladakh”, however believes he has an answer.

By diverting meltwater through a network of pipes into artificial lakes in the shaded side of mountain valleys, he says he has created new glaciers.

A dam or embankment is built to keep in the water, which freezes at night and remains frozen in the absence of direct sunlight.

The water remains frozen until March, when the start of summer melts the new glacier and releases the water into the rivers below.

So far, Norphel’s glaciers have been able to each store up to one million cubic feet of ice, which in turn can irrigate 200 hectares of farm land.

For farmers, that can make the difference between crop failure and a bumper crop of more than 1,000 tons of wheat.

Norphel’s work has now been recognized by the Indian government, which has given him 16,000 pounds to build five new glaciers.

“I’m planning to train villagers with instruction CDs that I have made, so that I can pass on the knowledge before I die,” he said. (ANI)

From Taragana