Chennai Corporation keeps special teams on standby as flood threat looms over the city

As the first spell of heavy rains this northeast monsoon is expected hit Chennai today, the corporation will expand the helpline 1913 with additional lines; teams have been sent out to check electrical installations; trees are being pruned in all the 15 zones

October 31, 2022 12:21 am | Updated 12:21 am IST - CHENNAI

With the first spell of heavy rain of northeast monsoon predicted anytime, the Greater Chennai Corporation has put in place a coordinated response mechanism to deal with the problem of waterlogging in vulnerable areas.

With the first spell of heavy rain of northeast monsoon predicted anytime, the Greater Chennai Corporation has put in place a coordinated response mechanism to deal with the problem of waterlogging in vulnerable areas. | Photo Credit: M. VEDHAN

As the first spell of the northeast monsoon is expected anytime in the city, the Greater Chennai Corporation has taken steps to deal with the threat of floods.

Special teams have been deployed for emergency response. A team of over 2,000 workers has started checking all electrical installations, including 2.3 lakh streetlights and 7,000 pillar boxes, to prevent electrocution during the rain. “Rainfall is expected for three days in Chennai. Control rooms have been set up in all the 15 zones,” an official said.

City residents can call Corporation helpline 1913 for reporting civic issues during the monsoon. Flood control room landline numbers for the Corporation in Ripon Buildings are 044-25619206, 044-25619207 and 044-25619208.

After an IT professional, who tried to cross the median in Pallikaranai, was electrocuted last week, civic agencies have started checking the safety of electrical fittings ahead of the monsoon.

Trees pruned

Teams have been deployed to prune trees following complaints from residents. “We started pruning of trees in August. It is an ongoing process. Parks Department is supervising it,” said an official. As many as 21,271 trees have been pruned in the 15 zones of the city. Most of the trees have been pruned in Anna Nagar.

“We are inspecting all the lampposts and tightening the cables. Additionally, pumps have been prepositioned in highly vulnerable spots along with arrangements for operators and diesel generator sets,” said an official.

Mayor Priya Rajan conducted coordination meeting with line departments ahead of the onset of the monsoon this week in the presence of Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi. Fuel companies have been instructed to keep sufficient stocks. Communication companies have been instructed to keep generators near mobile towers and telephone exchanges.Hospitals have been instructed to keep generators on the first floor or above to avoid accidents.

Officials of the Civil Supplies department have been instructed to keep sufficient stocks of grain and pulses in case of any need for mass cooking. Relief shelters have been made ready in all the 15 zones.

The Corporation centralised kitchens have been refurbished and are in a state of readiness.

Staff strength

To respond quickly to complaints from residents, the civic body will increase the number of lines for helpline 1913 from 10 to 50 on Monday. Complaints received on 1913 lines, social media complaints, Namma Chennai App and website — all complaints will be entered into the integrated PGRS (Public Grievance Redress System) from where these are forwarded to the field official and updated by the control room.

The Chennai Corporation has created a separate module for disaster management in the Integrated Command and Control Centre. It carries rain data from 30 rain gauges, rain forecast data from TNSDMA (Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority) real-time flood forecasting system, real-time flood levels in major canals, bridges and subways at 41 locations, besides active monitoring of all subways through cameras.

The civic body has developed a disaster management app for officials, which contains contacts of field officials across departments of the State government, availability of critical machinery with departments, relief shelters, private marriages halls and colleges in case required for coordinating for shelter and snake catchers. The app provides reports to officers regularly regarding inundation, deployment of motor pumps, tree fall, and food distribution.

Canal not widened

S. Kumararaja, vice-president, Annai Indira Nagar Residents Welfare Association, said the dumping of waste in Pallikaranai marshland over the past few decades has led to accumulation of huge amount of silt in the marsh, affecting monsoon preparedness in the area. “Highways department has not completed widening of a stretch of 110 metre of the 2.5-km canal that carries surplus water from Velachery lake to Pallikaranai marshland. It widened 220 metre from 6 metre to 8 metre.

The end point remains a bottleneck, which is likely to cause flooding in Vijayanagar 13th Main road and Ram Nagar. The shutter has not been widened,” said Mr. Kumararaja.

“Construction debris and silt in another 4-km canal along Taramani Link Road have reportedly not been removed by the Public Works Department. Residents have requested officials to clear the drain,” said Mr. Kumararaja.

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