CHENNAI: Rain-ravaged Chennai was today crawling with air and road traffic severely hit as Army, Navy and NDRF teams stepped up rescue operations in worst-hit localities of the city that is also witnessing power outages.
The non-stop torrential rains pounding the city since last night showed some let up in the morning but the inundated streets left commuters stranded.
In view of the water logging, Chennai Airport authorities have shut operations till 6 AM tomorrow. All airlines, including Air India, have cancelled their operations from Chennai airport.
The Airports Authority of India has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) to all air operators in this regard, an AAI spokesperson said in New Delhi.
The spokesperson said Chennai airport authorities had initially shut operations till this morning but due to incessant rains it has now decided to extend it till 6 AM tomorrow.
Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is a notice containing information concerning the establishment, condition, or change in any facility, service or procedure, among others, in airspace management.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in view of the situation, the Centre has deployed Army, Navy and NDRF teams in sufficient numbers.
"The Prime Minister has issued a memorandum and we have deployed our Central team there to assess the situation and make a report so that every possible help can also reach there," Singh said.
Two columns of army's Garrison Infantry Battalion have been pressed into service in Tambaram and Oorapakkam after the Tamil Nadu government sought military assistance. The Navy has also been deployed to assist in the operations.
"More army personnel are coming to Chennai from Bengaluru," a Defence Public Relations official said.
Navy personnel have been deployed in Sadiapet area of Chennai to rescue people marooned in low-lying areas.
The NDRF is airlifting another 15 teams to the rain-battered state. While 10 teams are being airlifted from Bhubaneshwar to Tirupati, another five teams are being lifted from Delhi, NDRF DG O P Singh said.
Each team comprises 40 personnel.
The teams are also carrying 20 inflatable boats along with them for the rescue operations.
NDRF DIG and commanding officer have been stationed in Chennai to take stock of the operations, he said.
Singh said that he is also in constant touch with the Relief Commissioner of Tamil Nadu.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said more forces will be deployed to tackle the situation.
However, "we are facing difficulty in bringing them (forces) there as the airport is also not operating," he said.
The rains that have virtually broken a 100-year-old record with one day's rainfall covering a month's average have flooded areas in Vadapalani, Valasaravakkam and Nandamvakkam as nearby lakes overflowed into the city.
The situation has worsened in suburban areas of Tambaram and Mudichur after the Chembarakam lake overflowed and an unprecedented 26,000 cusecs of water was released flooding the downstream areas. These areas had already suffered heavily during the earlier spells of rains.
A large part of the road near Madhya Kailash temple in the heart of the city in an area that connects the IT corridor has caved in resulting in a huge crater and disrupting traffic.
Even in hitherto unaffected areas, people have complained that water entered their homes and roads flooded with surging waters. Several areas in the city went without power as supply was cut as a safety precaution.
DG MeT Department Laxman Singh Rathore said, "Extremely heavy rainfall has been occurring for sometime and today Tamil Nadu has witnessed 35 cm of rainfall that has created havoc.
"Its intensity, however, will decrease in the next 48 hours and further by 72 hours but it is likely to continue for five-seven days," he said.
DMK MP Kanimozhi demanded that the Centre should declare it as a national disaster as it is not only Chennai that is affected but also coastal areas of Tamil Nadu.
"The rain is unrelenting and more rains have been predicted in another few more days. I really don't understand how state government can handle the situation. We need more resources, more help and everything has to be rushed quickly. We need whatever support Centre can give to the state government," she said.
Meanwhile, Spicejet has cancelled all its flights till tomorrow, while Jet Airways has cancelled all its flights to and from Chennai for today.
Budget carrier IndiGo has announced cancellation of all flights from Chennai.
"Due to heavy rains causing water logging on the Chennai runway all the inbound and outbound flights to and fro Chennai have been cancelled," Indigo tweeted