Rain brings traffic to a grinding halt

CHENNAI OCT. 31. An evening of torrential rain paralysed many parts of the city, leaving thousands of commuters stranded on major roads, scores of vehicles stalled and train and bus services suspended for hours, but no announcement from the Government on how it proposed to handle the rest of the monsoon.

Most parts of the city were lashed by rain that touched over 7 cm in three hours, and the weak civic infrastructure was on the brink of collapse. The storm water drains, which had received poor maintenance over the year were unequal to the task, and the Police were not geared to pull stalled vehicles away from the arterial roads, which would have allowed others to pass.

"When this Government is unable to manage the existing city in a monsoon, why does it plan to build another capital city," a frustrated commuter asked on Anna Salai, after making a futile bid to reach T.Nagar via several roads.

Anna Salai, the "VIP" Kamarajar Salai, Poonamalee High Road, the three major arteries in the city, and the Inner Ring Road were all choked by flooding of stretches known for years to be difficult spots during the monsoon, but ignored by civic authorities and Police. The vehicular subways were also flooded.

Apparently, neither the Corporation nor the Police had any plan in place to react to the situation, and chaos ruled the roads. Neither was there any move by the police or the corporation personnel to assist stranded commuters at railway terminals and bus-stops to return home, with MTC buses keeping off for the most part.

If Nungambakkam recorded 7.4 cm of rainfall for three hours from 5-30 p.m., Meenambakkam was battered by 12.7 cm of rainfall, worrying residents of suburbs and flooding the Chromepet Government Hospital which has scores of in-patients.

While vehicles were stranded on roads, commuters were the worst hit with both the bus and the EMU services coming to a standstill. The water-logging on the railway track near Guindy resulted in the BG and the MG services affected. While the EMU services from the Beach station were turned back at Saidapet, those from Tambaram were turned back at St.Thomas Mount. Even some long distance trains were delayed.

The root of the problem was the "troughs" connecting the arterial roads Gemini on Anna Salai, Nungambakkam and Chetpet leading to Poonamalee High Road, Santhome connecting Kamarajar Salai, and G.N.Chetty Road in T.Nagar filled with water.

The entire area around the Egmore Railway Station was flooded, the buses on the stretch blocking traffic after breaking down. While the traffic police have been projecting itself as brutally efficient when it came to collection of fines, the planners apparently did not devote much thought to the situation during the monsoon roads were allowed to be dug up by various agencies, but the Police did not insist that they should be repaired before the monsoon set in.

Despite repeated media coverage of the civic chaos that has come to grip the city over the past several days, the AIADMK-led Chennai Corporation did not react. Even roads described in the media, such as Alagirisamy Salai in KK Nagar where digging work is half done but traffic allowed, witnessed a crisis today.

Dies in house collapse

The heavy downpour claimed one victim at Pallavaram today.

Dhanam (42), a resident of Bharathi Nagar, died when her house collapsed due to heavy rain. Her daughter, Vijayalakshmi (24), was admitted to the Government General Hospital with multiple fractures.

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