Chennai: Enough in reservoirs to last till next monsoon: Metrowater officials

CHENNAI: The level in the Veeranam lake in Cuddalore is up to the brim following the heavy inflow but Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) officials say it does not mean any increase in the supply to the city. They, however, say the four reservoirs have enough to last till the next monsoon.

On Tuesday, the level in the Veeranam lake was at 43.7 feet against its capacity of 47.5 feet. The inflow was 1,000 cusecs while the outflow maintained at 1,474 cusecs. On Wednesday, the inflow was 500 cusecs and the outflow 493 cusecs.

CMWSSB officials say only 180 Million litres per Day (MLD) is drawn from the lake for the city’s needs. “Veeranam is primarily a irrigation lake from which we are drawing water for the city under a scheme. Of the out flow of 493 cusecs from Veeranam on Wednesday, 427 cusecs will go for agricultural use and 66 cusecs for Chennai,” said an official.

Water from Veeranam reaches a pumping house in Settiya Thoppu near Cuddalore and goes to a treatment plant in Vadakuthu near Neyvelli. From there it reaches an overhead tank in Kadambuliyur and then, using gravity, 180 MLD is sent to the Porur headworks. “This then provides water to entire South Chennai,” said the official.

Officials say the level in the four reservoirs supplying water to the city increased by 45% on Wednesday compared to Tuesday. On Tuesday, the combined storage was 4880 mcft against the capacity of 11,057 mcft. On Wednesday, it was 5039 mcft an increase of 159 mcft.

“The increase is mainly due to the rains. The average rainfall in Red Hills, Cholavaram, and Poondi is 325 mm for November. We have been receiving 2.3 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of Krishna water. This is expected to continue untill our reservoirs become full and we ask them to stop. This will ensure enough supply till the next monsoon,” said the official.


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.


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)


Palakkad: Monsoons shower a bounty on Silent Valley

The national park records one of the highest rainfall levels in Western Ghats

PALAKKAD: The Silent Valley National Park, one of the few remaining rainforests in the country, gets one of the highest — or even the highest — average annual rainfall in the Western Ghats, data for the past 10 years show.

The highest average annual rainfall received in the valley was 8,361.9 mm in 2001. In 2000, the figure was 7,788.8 mm; in 2002, 4,262.5 mm; in 2003, 3,499.65 mm; in 2004, 6,521.27 mm; in 2005, 6,919.38 mm; in 2006, 6,845.05 mm; in 2007, 6,009.35 mm; and in 2008, 4386.5 mm. The figure till October this year is 5,477.4 mm.

Officials of the Silent Valley National Park, on patrol duty, crossing the Kunthi river on a rainy day. — Photo: N.P. Jayan

The average annual rainfall of the Western Ghats ranges from 6,000 mm at the crest of the ghats to as low as 600 mm in the valley portion, said a study conducted by B. Venkatesh and M. Bonne of the National Institute of Hydrology, Karnataka. The study was titled ‘Regional Analysis of Rainfall Extremes of Western Ghats.’

The area also accounts for one of the highest rainfall levels in India. Mawsynram in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya is known as the world’s wettest place, with an annual rainfall of 11,873 mm, said environmentalist L. Namasivayam. Cherrapunji held the record earlier.

S. Sivadas, Wildlife Warden of the Silent Valley National Park, told The Hindu here on Thursday that the Walakkad and the Poochippara areas had been recording the highest rainfall in the valley since 2000.

Up to October this year, Poochippara received a rainfall of 7,639 mm and Walakkad, 5,931 mm. But Walakkad received more rain than Poochippara in most of these nine years. In 2006, Walakkad received the highest ever rainfall of 9,569.6 mm. In 2000, the figure was 7,788 mm; in 2001, 8,351.9 mm; in 2004, 8465.3 mm; and in 2005, 9,347.8 mm.

In 2007, Poochippara received the highest ever rainfall of 8,093.7 mm. In 2004, the area received 7,020.1 mm; in 2005, 6,945.6 mm; and in 2006, 7650.8 mm.

The Sairandhri area, where a dam was proposed in the 1970s for the aborted Silent Valley hydroelectric project, also gets good rainfall. In 2004, the area received 5,005.2 mm; in 2005, 5,669 mm; in 2008, 4,507.9 mm; and up to October this year, 4,214.7 mm. The Neelikkal area received an annual rainfall of 5,715.1 mm in 2005;and 3,737.9 mm in 2008.

Saby Varghese, Range Officer of the park, said the Silent Valley got continuous rain for six to seven months a year. In the remaining months, mist shrouds the valley, which is estimated to yield 15 per cent of the water generated in the rainforest, with both the north-east and south-west monsoons blessing the valley.

G. Prabhakaran from THE HINDU

Chennai: It was a near repeat of last year’s monsoon

CHENNAI: As residents of the city reeled under heavy downpour, resulting in slow moving traffic, battered roads and unannounced power cuts on Saturday, the Chennai Corporation’s version that it had desilted 90 per cent of the stormwater drains were laid bare. It was a near repeat of last year’s monsoon in many localities and the roads went under several feet of water.

During the 12 hours ending 8.30 p.m., Nungambakkam recorded 83.7 mm of rainfall and Meenambakkam 96.3 mm. Weather officials forecast more intermittent rain, including heavy spells.

SHADES ALL THE WAY: Right from the young woman hurrying to work on Anna Salai, to commuters rushing out of Park station, all had to brave the brunt of the rain on Saturday. Amid the downpour, however, this man in Ambattur stuck to his daily chore of fetching potable water. — Photos: R. Ravindran, R.Ragu and K. Pichumani

Depression likely

The Meteorological Department said Saturday’s low pressure area has now developed into a well-marked low pressure area over the Cape Comorin. The system is likely to intensify into a depression.

In many parts of the city, people waded through knee-deep or waist-high water. Many of them fell into potholes and sustained injuries. Power supply was suspended in slum areas in north and south Chennai which were inundated, a Tamil Nadu Electricity Board source said.

Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and Mayor M. Subramanian visited G.N. Chetty Road in T. Nagar, Ayodhya Nagar off Kamarajar Salai, and some parts of Choolai.

By evening, Corporation officials said 60,000 food packets were distributed to people living in flooded areas in Tondiarpet, Pulianthope and Nungambakkam zones. The civic body also conducted health camps in all 10 zones and would be distributing chlorine tablets.

The four reservoirs supplying water to the city have been receiving good inflow over the past few days. Chembarambakkam received the highest inflow with 2,153 cubic feet per second till 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Officials of the Chennai Metrowater said the reservoirs received an additional storage of about 270 million cubic feet from rainfall alone. This is equivalent to nine days’ supply to the city. The possibility of inundation in areas surrounding the Porur Lake is slim since water from Chembarambakkam would be released only if there is surplus in the reservoir, officials said.

But, the monsoon was a nightmare for many residents as stagnant water threw life out of gear. Roadside mechanics were seen busy repairing two-wheelers that got stuck. At the Tirumangalam Police Station, the personnel worked in knee-deep water as the station was flooded.

About 3,000 residents of Gnanamurthy Nagar in Ambattur Municipal limits watched helplessly as water entered their homes on Friday afternoon. The residents’ welfare association secretary, M.R. Chockalingam, said, “Last year we had a similar problem and the Chief Secretary visited the area then. The problem is because 200 Feet Road is being laid from Maduravoyal to Madhavaram. There is no proper provision to drain water into the Korattur Lake.”

The story was the same for residents of several localities in west Velachery such as AGS Staff Colony, where the roads went under sheets of water. As water entered many houses, residents planned to move away to safer locations, officials of the civic body listed the proposed measures to avoid such situation, something that they had said last monsoon too. While the residents wanted quick solution to tide over the problems, the officials spoke about a tender under consideration to channel out the water.

S. Kumararaja, a resident of Annai Indira Nagar in Velachery, said that several low-level areas including VGP Selva Nagar, Sarathi Nagar Extension and Anna Nagar have been flooded. More than two feet of water on the road had forced residents to remain indoors.

Important roads such as G.N.Chetty Road, Purasawalkam High Road, Anna Nagar Belly Area, near the Koyambedu junction, and areas such as Tondiarpet, Ambattur Industrial Estate, Tirumangalam and Vyasarpadi were inundated. But, it was business as usual on Ranganathan Street.

At Kodungaiyur dump yard, braving the rain and the stench of rotting garbage, a few children hunted for empty liquor bottles and iron scrap. Ten-year-old Sridhar said, “I am used to the rain. My house is just across the road.”

In several ration shops in North Chennai, large groups of women and elderly men waited in queues to buy kerosene. Muthulakshmi, a homemaker and resident of Manali, said that as she had lost her ration card, she had to buy kerosene from private shops.

Teenagers Ashok and John, students of class X, said their parents had moved in with relatives on Friday as their huts on Ennore Expressway in Tiruvottiyur were submerged. The children stayed back to safeguard the belongings. At Palagaithotti Kuppam, fishermen said they would not venture into the sea as it was rough.

The situation was bad at the MRTS railway stations. Leaky roofs in Mandaveli and Indira Nagar stations and stagnant water in Kasturba Nagar Station compounded the woes of commuters. At least four long-distance trains that arrived in the morning at the Egmore and Central stations were delayed by over three hours due to the rain.

Despite the heavy rain in the southern suburbs, motorists were not trapped in traffic snarls as it was a lean day, police said.

Officials of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said municipality and town panchayat officials were instructed to identify and attend to problems in areas prone to water stagnation. Near Sembakkam bus stop, a trench was dug to drain stagnant water.

Residents protest

Officials of the State Highways Department said water from subways near Pazhavanthangal and St. Thomas Mount railway stations were being pumped out. When residents living around the St. Thomas Mount subway complained that the pumped out water had entered their localities, pumping out of water was stopped for three hours on Saturday afternoon. But, it was resumed after officials explained that the water would flow into the Adambakkam Lake.

(With inputs from R. Sujatha, K. Manikandan, K. Lakshmi, Vidya Venkat, R. Srikanth and Deepa H Ramakrishnan)


Ooty: Rain hits normal life in the Nilgiris

Udhagamandalam: On account of the North-East Monsoon becoming active, normal life in many parts of the Nilgiris district has been hit for the past couple of days.

Due to the chill winds accompanying the incessant rain, the demand for cold weather accessories like woollen scarves and gloves has gone up. The rain has triggered minor landslips and brought down trees at a few places. Thick mist has reduced visibility to a few metres at many places. Motorists are forced to drive with the headlights on even during the day.

Many tourists have come here to spend their weekend. However, the rain has played spoilsport with their sight-seeing plans. Official sources told ‘The Hindu’ here on Saturday that the rain was beneficial to perennial crops like tea and standing crops.

However, among those worst hit by the hostile weather are farm workers. In view of the inclement weather, vigil has been stepped up along the landslide-prone Nilgiri Mountain Railway track.


Cleaning of channels in full swing in Ramanathapuram

RAMANATHAPURAM: Even as the northeast monsoon intensified on Saturday, the steps to drain out rainwater in Ramanathpauram town began on Saturday. Besides workers of Ramanathapuram municipality, an earthmover and a few tractors were also pressed into service.The idea was to remove the silt along the important channels for free flow of water.

Collector T.N. Hariharan had instructed the municipal, revenue and public works department officials to take emergency steps to find out obstructions and sediments at the inlet and outlet points of ooranies.

Mr. Hariharan, who visited the cleaning operation accompanied by District Revenue Officer K. Balasubramaniam at Chockalingapuram in Singarathope area, told The Hindu that the points, where water flow was blocked or slowed down on channels, had been found out. Initially the channels and waterways, which were interlinked with the western parts of the town would be desilted. It would facilitate free flow of rainwater to Sakkarakottai kanmoi. If there were encroachments on waterways they would be cleared. The clearing operation would be completed within two days.

Mr. Hariharan said the areas in and around Thangappa Nagar, where water logging was reported, would be studied. Necessary steps would be taken to drain out water from the area.K.V. Balakrishnan, Commissioner, Ramanathapuram Municipality, said that all officials and field staff have been put on alert to take steps to prevent water borne diseases.


Tamilnadu: Monsoon days

Braving the cold weather: A downpour in Coimbatore on Saturday.— Photo: K. Ananthan