Today's Paper

Floods swamp Chennai and suburbs

IN SPATE: A view of the Adyar river, in spate on Saturday. It is almost touching the bridge at Saidapet, which is a gateway to the main city of Chennai.  

Kannal Achuthan

CHENNAI: Much of Tamil Nadu's capital, Chennai, was flooded on Saturday, following torrential rain and overflowing tanks, lakes and reservoirs.

As rain continued to pound Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts in the north of the State, floodwaters from the tanks, lakes and reservoirs that were surplussing or had breached, entered residential areas. People in the suburbs of the city and adjoining areas bore the brunt.

The near-incessant rain for over seven hours on Friday night flooded several streets and ruined highways, including the Chennai-Bangalore Highway.

Even after the rain relented on Saturday morning, water from swollen rivers and overflowing lakes entered nearby habitations, causing great panic among the people. Thousands living along the waterways and vulnerable areas were evacuated to safety.

In the 24 hours ended 8.30 a.m. on Saturday, Nungambakkam in Chennai recorded 23.4 cm rainfall and Meenambakkam (airport) 28.2 cm. Tiruvallur district, north of Chennai, received 23 cm and Chengalpattu in Kancheepuram district, to the south, reported 15 cm in the same period. Tambaram, the southern suburb, received the maximum rainfall in the State — 31.4 cm over a 24-hour period.

The administration deployed every means it had to lessen the misery, but in several localities, the measures proved inadequate and people were left marooned. The Adyar was flowing to its brim, almost touching the bridge at Saidapet, at the entrance to the main city.

Several thickly-populated suburbs, particularly Virugambakkam, Madipakkam, Pulianthope and Vyasarpadi were flooded.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who reviewed the situation, announced that all flood-affected families would be eligible for relief, irrespective of the type of ration cards they held.

She said in a statement:

"Because of heavy inflows into the Virugambakkam Canal from Maduravoyal lake, the canal is overflowing flooding the 100 feet road, MMDA colony, Ayyappan Nagar and Sai Nagar areas. I have instructed the Public Works Department to divert the water from Maduravoyal lake into the Cooum river and take simultaneous action to pump out water from inundated areas."

Although the city was badly affected, Tiruvallur district was the worst hit with several tanks and waterbodies overflowing.

As the Tiruvallur-Poonamallee road was cut off in three places, traffic was diverted through Avadi and Seneerkuppam.

Water flowed over stretches of the Satyavedu-Gummidipoondi road near Madarkuppam, along the Tiruvallur- Oothukottai route and the Tiruthani-Tiruvallur road.

"We had to evacuate about 28,000 people. They have been given food and shelter in 69 schools and kalyana mandapams," Tiruvallur Collector Pankaj Kumar Bansal said.

As 6,600 cusecs was released from the Red Hills reservoir, villages along the surplus canal were ravaged.

Closer to Chennai, Porur, Valasaravakkam, Ambattur and Madhavaram were in waist-deep water.

People decided to vacate even apartment complexes in these areas, as they were afraid of being cut off.

Four dead

Two persons were electrocuted when they came into contact with live wires and two, including a child, were drowned in small ponds.

Forecast

The Regional Meteorological office forecast heavy rain over Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri and Villupuram districts on Sunday, under the influence of the low-pressure area lying over the southwest and adjoining west central Bay.