Greater Chennai Police Commissioner Sandeep Rai Rathore interacting with rescue teams at Rajarathinam stadium | P Jawahar
Greater Chennai Police Commissioner Sandeep Rai Rathore interacting with rescue teams at Rajarathinam stadium | P Jawahar

Chennai braces itself to tackle showers

Corpn deputes 16,000 staff to carry out relief work at night; 125 from disaster response forces on standby

CHENNAI: Even as the city braces for a possible spell of heavy rain to be brought by cyclone, residents in some parts of the city like Ritchie Street are still bothered by water stagnation from the rain on Wednesday. Traders and shopkeepers on the busy street are scrambling to pack away valuable goods in anticipation of heavy showers over the next two days.

According to shopkeepers, water has been stagnating for over two days on Athipattan Street in Chintadripet and Ritchie Street. “Customers prefer to take other streets owing to water stagnation. For mobile services alone, we usually get 100-120 customers every day, which has reduced to 30-40,” said Sam J, a shop keeper.

Residents of Sarathy Nagar near Adyar are concerned about inundation owing to heavy rain.
“We have been asking for a retaining wall to be constructed along this part of the river in vain. We have lived here for years and have nowhere else to go. So, we go to our terrace and check the level of water flow in the river every hour. This will tell us when to pack our belongings and leave,” said Palanivel T, a resident.

Residents of Arunthathiyar Nagar in Vyasarpadi are concerned about electrical accidents too, in addition to flooding. “Instead of fixing cables from scratch, officials are extending connections from the post through wires. The wires hang over our heads and are at risk of coming undone anytime,” says Dinesh, a resident. Residents allege negligence on part of EB officials in addressing the issue.

“Despite multiple petitions, no official turned up to resolve the issue. Any minor problem would lead to outage,” said CB Parandhaman, a resident and activist. Officials from the electricity board in the zone were not available for comments.

Sewage overflow and pothole-ridden roads are also major obstacle for people who commute for work during the rain. For residents of Tansi Nagar in Velachery, the situation has greatly improved over the past two years as far as inundation is concerned. The roads, however, are unmotorable. “More than 80% of stormwater drain works are completed in our area. But roads are in very bad condition with severe potholes,” says Balakrishnan, a resident.

Sewage overflow is another common problem echoed by residents across zones. “Majority of the sewage pumping is handling sewage beyond their capacity which leads to delays in clearing blockage in many areas. The pumping stations need to be upgraded,” said Raghukumar C, a resident of Perambur.

Corporation had conducted a meeting in November with disabled rights activist to understand their needs. Efforts are made by the corporation to ensure smooth functioning of disabled homes in Chennai. Aiswarya Rao who runs the disabled shelter home in Royapettah told TNIE, “We had minor waterlogging last month. Following this, corporation officials increased the height of the floors on the premises. There is no inundation now and we have adequate stock of groceries.”

Corporation on high alert

The corporation has arranged for 16,000 staff to be on the ground at nights to carry out relief activities, Mayor R Priya told reporters. In total, the civic body will have 23,000 staff including 10 additional staff per ward deployed exclusively for monsoon relief. There are 125 personnel from the disaster response forces on standby.

Additional pumps have been provided to Madhavaram, Teynampet, Kodambakkam and Perungudi zones to tackle inundation. The corporation has also increased the monsoon relief funds handed to each zone from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Corporation operates a total of 162 relief camps across the city and street dwellers who were rescued from the streets are accommodated in two of them.

Corporation commissioner J Radhakrishnan told TNIE, “All the shelter homes are kept ready. But there is no pressing need to evacuate and accommodate people. In the past the corporation had supplied food for 70,000 people.”Residents may call toll free 1913 for complaints.

High-rise construction put off

The regional deputy commissioner of Greater Chennai Corporation has urged Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) to suspend high-rise building construction work following the forecast of heavy rain and wind in Chennai. Project developers have been told to ensure that materials like centering sheets, tin sheets, wooden panes, doors, windows, tower cranes and scaffolding trolleys are brought to the ground level and fastened.

Airport core team to monitor threat

Chennai Airport on Saturday set up a core team consisting of members from various departments for close monitoring of a threat due to heavy rain on December 3 and 4. The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by airport director C V Deepak with departments concerned to evaluate the preparedness to handle the situation. A special task force of senior AAI officials are inspecting the airfield and terminal building regularly to ensure smooth operations. Similarly, water level in Adayar is being monitored regularly.

Nehru takes stock of cyclone preparations

Municipal administration minister KN Nehru inspected the Integrated Command and Control Centre at the Ripon building.  “Inundation was reported in 138 places in Chennai city. In 101 places it drained in a few hours, 37 places where heavy inundation is reported, high capacity pumps are deployed. A total of 162 relief camps are readied. 23,000 corporation staff are on duty and an additional 2,000 staff are recruited. Metro board had installed motor pumps in 90 places and 129 generators are functional,” Nehru told reporters.

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