Amid scaled-up rescue and relief operations to bring a rain-devastated Chennai and its neighbouring districts back on their feet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook an aerial survey of the affected regions on Thursday and announced an additional Rs. 1,000-crore relief package. The Centre had earlier sanctioned Rs. 940 crore.
While appreciating the gesture, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who conducted a separate aerial survey, appealed to Mr. Modi to sanction “an ‘on-account’ release of at least Rs. 5,000 crore” from the National Disaster Response Fund immediately.
Live area-wise updates, courtesy chennairains.org:
Water Stagnation in New Avadi road and Water tank road. Power available.
West Mambalam/Duraiswamy Subway
No power. Subway is still closed and water is receding.
Montieth Road. Flooded with thigh-high water. Pazhamudir is open with no milk, bread and vegetables Power available in only some places.
Ankle deep water but power is restored. Not many have cellphone coverage.
Manthope colony, 11th & 12th avenue still water logged. Supplies except milk available. No power and not expected to resume until tomorrow. From Pillar to Udhayam theater there's little to no water. Still no mobile connectivity.
Metro Station is crowded and running too. Power in some areas and mobiles working.
Madipakkam to Ram Nagar
Water at hip level. Shops open with milk and water available at double rates.
Not raining as of now. Power is back. Shops are open with basic provisions available.
Uttamar Gandhi Salai to Sterling Road is water-free. Super markets open. Power is on.
Mucky water present. Most areas flooded. Small shops selling groceries. Milk 1/2L @ Rs.45. No electricity as of now. Most areas flooded.
Water knee high. Venkateswara hospital open. Shops closed and No power available.
Nandanam signal to West Mambalam
Shin level water. Groceries, Tea shops and Medical Shops Open.
Aerial survey “I have seen the damage and misery caused by the extremely heavy rainfall. The Government of India stands by the people of Tamil Nadu in this hour of need,” Mr. Modi said soon after his aerial survey.
Hours later, he tweeted, “We are all pained by the devastation in T.N. Took stock of the damage, on the ground & through an aerial survey.”
Mr. Modi arrived from Delhi on board a special aircraft that landed at the naval air station, INS Rajali, in Arakkonam in Vellore district. From there, he boarded an IAF helicopter to undertake the aerial survey and landed at the INS Adyar naval base in Chennai, where Governor K. Rosaiah and Ms. Jayalalithaa received him. Accepting Ms. Jayalalithaa’s request, the Prime Minister agreed to deploy 10 Army columns and 20 NDRF teams to scale up the rescue operations.
Unprecedented “The Prime Minister agreed with the Chief Minister that the situation in Tamil Nadu was unprecedented and expressed concern at the seriousness of the situation. He said Chennai was a growth centre and anything that affected Tamil Nadu affected the whole country,” a State Government release said.
Nearly 3.25 lakh persons were rescued and evacuated in Chennai, Cuddalore, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts as on Thursday.
As many as 300 boats were mobilised, 4,327 relief centres opened, over 9.39 lakh persons accommodated and food packets distributed to over 44.55 lakh people.
Cheap flights Even as defence personnel and NDRF teams went all out to rescue people stranded without food and electricity for two days, the INS Rajali naval station was converted into a civilian airport as the flooded Chennai airport is closed till Sunday.
The Civil Aviation Ministry will operate six commercial flights from INS Rajali on Friday and Saturday and fly out passengers charging a mere Rs. 1,000 (southern destinations) and Rs. 2,000 per ticket (non-south destinations), Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in New Delhi. No check-in baggage would be allowed on these flights. All trains from the Egmore railway station in Chennai have been cancelled in view of the flooding of tracks.
As much of the rescue efforts were focussed on the upscale south Chennai and its suburbs, hundreds of residents from north Chennai were left to fend for themselves.
Accusing rescue teams of neglecting them, the residents from north Chennai waded through waist-deep waters salvaging whatever little household belongings they could.