CHENNAI: Having struggled for days on end to rescue lakhs of people who were facing serious threat of survival after the devastating monsoon in Chennai and its suburbs, the official machinery has turned its attention towards offering relief to the thousands who are now lodged in various relief camps set up across the metropolis.
From operating boats, rafts and helicopters, the attention is now on power, water, transport and milk among other such essential items and services. After floodwaters entered the city, power supply was disconnected across the city to avoid any untoward incidents. On Saturday, electricity board officials managed to restore supply to many of these areas.
Similarly, milk prices that had shot through the roof due to shortage in the last few days came down to normal on Saturday, with State-run cooperative Aavin stepping up supply of milk and milk powder during the day. Officials have announced that milk supply would resume as normal from Sunday. Following the State government’s decision to allow people to travel on MTC buses for free, thousands made use of the opportunity to get across to various parts of the city. This came as a relief for a large number of people who were affected by stoppage of suburban train services, and also because of reported shortage of both petrol and diesel, which in turn increased tariff on other transport options like autos.
The reports about shortage led to huge queues in front of fuel stations and panic purchase, which led to actual shortage. Many fuel stations soon put up signboards saying no fuel, which further heightened the alarm. Responding to this, the State government announced on Saturday that 475 kilo litres of petrol and 875 kilo litres of diesel have been procured to tide over the perceived shortage. As many as 67 tanker lorries carrying the fuel are on its way to the city. Also, the government has also asked the Indian Oil Corporation to step up supply of LPG cylinders from its Chengalpattu plant. This would offset the trouble faced by the public sector oil marketing firm whose plants at Manali and Attipattu plants saw disruption of activities.
The Chennai airport, which was closed down for the past few days after the overflowing Adyar river drowned it almost completely, is slowly limping back to normalcy, with the Airports Authority of India deciding to try beginning partial operations from Sunday. However, it would take a few more days for it to resume full activity, as the facility is yet to have its power supply restored. Officials said the commercial operations and international flights that mostly operate during the late night and early morning hours require electricity for lights, technical operations and even for managing baggage. Meanwhile, suburban trains, an important lifeline of Chennai, have begun operations from Egmore to Tambaram, though full restoration of rail network including express trains would take more time.
The Regional Meteorological Centre has forecast light rains in the next 24 hours for the city and suburbs. S R Ramanan, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, said heavy rains were possible in the coastal and southern districts.