Rains continue to lash Chennai: Tamil Nadu government appears not to have learned from 2015 floods

As torrential rains continued to lash Chennai and brought the city to a standstill on Friday, the scene evokes memories of the 2015 floods in Tamil Nadu that claimed around 347 lives across the state.

On Thursday, several coastal pockets of Chennai witnessed severe water-logging after rains lashed the city for a non-stop five hours following a low pressure on the Bay of Bengal near Sri Lanka. As a result of the rain in the state, schools in Nagapattinam, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Chennai remained closed on Friday.

The state government has advised fishermen to be cautious while venturing into the sea in coastal areas of South Tamil Nadu and Delta districts. According to the Met Department, Chennai and Nungambakkam registered 18 cms of rain while Meenambakkam in the southern suburb recorded 14 cms, till 8.30 am on Friday.

Low lying areas in Chennai were flooded forcing people to wade through knee-deep water. S Balachandran, director of the Area Cyclone Warning Centre, warned moderate rainfall is expected in many places in south Tamil Nadu and a few areas in the north coastal parts of the state in the next two days.

Continuous rains bring back 2015 flood memories

DMK spokesperson Manu Sundaram slammed the Tamil Nadu government for not doing enough to stop a repetition of what took place during the 2015 floods. "Each week, the state government seems to be facing a new crisis. After just 12 hours of rains, Chennai city has brought back unhappy memories of 2015 floods. The government is ill-prepared and ill-equipped to handle another monsoon. Chennai and its residents may once again have to rise up to save each other," he told India Today.

Flooded streets in Chennai. PTI

Flooded streets in Chennai. PTI

In December 2015, the Jayalalithaa government faced flak over the staggering number of deaths and damage to property during the deluge. According to The Hindu347 people, 17.64 lakh cattle died and 1.16 lakh huts were damaged, forcing the late chief minister to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and declaring the Tamil Nadu floods as a "national calamity" and a "calamity of severe nature".

Following heavy rains on Thursday night, waterlogged streets made vehicular movement difficult with train services between St Thomas Mount and Kodambakkam station in Chennai stopped since 9.30 pm. Heavy traffic could be seen at the arterial Kathipara grade separator, Guindy intersection, Saidapet and till Velachery through the Raj Bhavan point, as per News18Vyasarpadi amd Otteri areas in north Chennai, parts of West Anna Nagar in central Chennai and Madipakkam in south Chennai faced severe waterlogging as well.

Angry residents expressed their frustration and said the government had learnt nothing from horrific 2015 floods experience. According to the India Today report, Sunnambu Kolathur residents poured out on the streets to protest against the civic bodies as their homes also got flooded. "We have been regularly complaining to the authorities about lack of storm water drains and to ensure the area doesn't get flooded. The monsoon has just set in, and see our condition. What if it rains harder in the days to come," the report quoted Shivraj, a resident, as saying.

DMK working president MK Stalin also hit out at the E Palaniswamy-led government for negligence. He added that Monday's rain adversely affected Mudichur on the outskirts of Chennai. According to The Times of IndiaMudichur was of the worst affected areas in the 2015 floods. "The government ought to have taken steps to prevent flooding in Mudichur and other areas which were affected in the 2015 floods. But the present government is worried only about saving the number of MLAs as it has already lost majority," said Stalin to The Times of India.

Lack of storm water drains

In 2015, absence of storm water drains was identified as one of the major causes of the floods. However, even after laying storm water drains, areas continue to get inundated, reported The Times of IndiaOn Tuesday, the civic body boasted that Villivakkam SIDCO Nagar, which was was flooded for 10 days in 2015, was benefitting from the new drains. While claiming Rs three crore was spent on building them, officials continued to use high power pumps to empty water out of the area instead.

As per another The Hindu report, delay in receiving funds for constructing storm water drains continued to pose a major challenge to the level of monsoon preparedness of the city. While the city corporation claims the city is prepared, there has been no improvement in the storm water drain or canal network in the past five years since the Rs 3,000 crore project was proposed in 2012, as per the report.

Reviewing relief and rescue work carried out by Chennai Corporation on Thursday, state revenue minister RB Udhaya Kumar told The Hindu“We have identified vulnerable locations but cannot prevent waterlogging. However, we can remove the water immediately. These spots should have motor sets, super suckers and JCBs to remove the water and the field-level staff should work efficiently.”

However, the government's response to a flood situation seems to have improved. The Wire reported that after the 2015 floods, the response by municipal bodies to the Cyclone Vardah the very next year was quicker. Nearly 20,000 trees were uprooted at the time. The civic authorities cleared off the trees and restored power, phone and Internet connectivity faster than the previous year.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 03, 2017 13:02 PM

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