HYDERABAD: A day after driving rain paralysed normal life in Hyderabad and the rest of Telangana, accounts of a living nightmare that the people went through the previous night began to unfold on Wednesday. As the day wore on, the toll climbed to 32, including 25 in Hyderabad and seven in erstwhile Mahbubnagnar district.
While nine others are missing, deaths due to wall collapses, electrocution and people getting washed away in overflowing nalas have been reported from different parts of Hyderabad and the outskirts. As onlookers watched, three workers were swept away in Ganganpahad, while they were trying to reach a safer place after swirling waters invaded the function hall where they work. In Mylardevpalli, two persons met with a similar fate.
In Banjara Hills, a doctor was electrocuted when he tried to drain out water from the cellar of his apartment, and in Dilsukhnagar, a three-year-old girl drowned in the flooded cellar of an apartment. Late on Tuesday, eight people died when a huge boulder crashed into houses at Chandrayangutta.
At Lingojiguda of Saroornagar, a woman got trapped in her flooded house and was found drowned on Wednesday morning. At Alwal, a 70-year-old woman drowned in her house, while her husband, who had slept in the next room, escaped in the incident. At SR Nagar, a youngster working in a bar, stepped into the building’s cellar to switch on the generator on Tuesday night. But as the electricity supply was restored by then, it led to a short circuit and he got electrocuted. Two people were also electrocuted at LB Nagar and Amberpet.
The fallout of the torrential rain — inundation of thoroughfares and residential areas in the twin cities — remained unchanged for the second consecutive day though the rain had stopped beating down on the city. Water appeared everywhere as there was no way for it to flow out, with encroachments reducing the width of lakes into which the water should drain into. Ghatkesar, a small town on Hyderabad’s outskirts, bore the brunt of the heaven’s fury of 32 cm rainfall, the highest in Telangana. In all other areas of the city, the rainfall was over 10 cm, which led to roads being covered under sheets of water. At places like Barkas, water flowed with a frightening roar, taking away an unwary middle-aged person along with it. Though people tried to reach out to help him, they watched the horror helplessly.
The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) remained cut off for those who were unfortunate enough to use the PVNR flyover. Water, which gushed out of a swollen tank, flowed across the national highway at Aramgarh, making further progress impossible for motorists as they exited the flyover. The only way to reach the airport was by the ORR but it was a detour for many. The airport was unavailable for flights till late on Tuesday.
Same is the case with Nizampet, Kukatpally and areas around Toli Chowki which are prone to flooding in case of a downpour. In Tellapur, a couple of hundred families were affected in the SSPDL Colony as the area was flooded with waist-deep water on Tuesday night. Thakur Rajkumar Singh, who has filed a case in the National Green Tribunal on the encroachment of a lake and nalas in the area, violation of GO 111 and encroachments in Ameenpur, said, “The NGT expert committee, in its report, has said this venture encroached a floodwater nala, Ganganivani Vadaka, leading to Medla Cheruvu in Tellapur. Further down, another venture belonging to family of a Telangana government bureaucrat has completely closed a floodwater nala. Who is to be blamed?”
Lubna Sarwath, a well-known lake protection activist from Hyderabad, said, “People are being evacuated but encroachment has not stopped. Musi waters are breaching the banks not because the river is in spate but because it is cramped with encroachments. We always told the government to restore the area of water bodies..”A University of Hyderabad study published this year reported that 20-25 per cent rainfall in the recent heavy rainfall in South India can be attributed to the increased urbanisation in the last decade.
Many flights were diverted to other cities and the airport became operational by early Wednesday. On the Hyderabad-Vijayawada National Highway too, traffic came to a grinding halt with the road getting washed away to several places at Hayatnagar on Hyderabad’s outskirts. Waterlogging was so widespread that till Wednesday evening, traffic flow could not be restored as water continued to flow across the road.In the morning, the road along the Moosapet Metro station caved in. It looked like a large crater and the foundation of the pillars of the Metro station could be seen.
The inevitable power shutdowns added to the people’s unremitting agony caused by being stuck in flooded homes. Even in the upscale areas of Begumpet, Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills, it took long to restore the supply. Officials said in the GHMC limits, the power utility restored supply to those served by 671 feeders and the work on the remaining 15 feeders was incomplete.
Musi in spate
With the Musi too being in spate, the authorities, fearing casualties, shifted those living in huts on the river’s banks to safer places. In other parts of the city, the Disaster Response teams ferried citizens stranded in waterlogged areas to safer places in boats. Life turned into misery for those at Nadeem Colony in Tolichowki, Al Jubail Colony in Falaknuma, Talab Katta, Malakpet, Chandrayangutta and Shaikpet as they were the worst affected.
Elsewhere in Telangana, the rains wreaked havoc and damaged standing crops. The worst affected was cotton, which was being grown in abundance in several districts. According to an estimate, cotton in six lakh acres had been damaged. The other crops affected were paddy and maize, and officials are preparing to enumerate the damage. The rain also played havoc in erstwhile Mahbubnagar, Warangal and Khammam districts where normal life was thrown out of gear and road transportation to several villages was cut off.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao monitored the situation throughout the day and Municipal Minister KT Rama Rao assessed the situation by going around Hyderabad and giving necessary directions to the officials to mitigate the suffering of the people.