The rain-ravaged southern Indian city of Chennai was Wednesday crawling with air and road traffic severely hit as Army, Navy and NDRF teams stepped up rescue operations in worst-hit localities of the city that is also witnessing power outages.
The rains pounding the city since Tuesday night showed some let-up Wednesday morning but the inundated streets left commuters stranded.
In view of the water-logging, Chennai Airport authorities have shut operations till 6 am Thursday. All airlines, including Air India, have cancelled their operations from Chennai airport.
The Airports Authority of India has issued a notice to all air operators in this regard.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre has deployed army, navy and NDRF teams in sufficient numbers for rescue operations.
“The Prime Minister has issued a memorandum and we have deployed our Central team there to assess the situation and make a report so that every possible help can also reach there,” Singh said.
Two columns of army’s Garrison Infantry Battalion have been pressed into service in Tambaram and Oorapakkam after the Tamil Nadu government sought military assistance.
The navy has also been deployed to assist in the rescue operations.
“More army personnel are coming to Chennai from Bengaluru,” a Defence Public Relations official said.
Navy personnel have been deployed in Sadiapet area of Chennai to rescue people marooned in low-lying areas.
The NDRF is airlifting another 15 teams to the rain-battered state. While 10 teams are being airlifted from Bhubaneshwar to Tirupati, another five teams are being lifted from Delhi.
Singh said he is in constant touch with the Relief Commissioner of Tamil Nadu.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said more forces will be deployed to tackle the situation.
However, “we are facing difficulty in bringing them (forces) there as the airport is not operating,” he said.
Areas in Vadapalani, Valasaravakkam and Nandamvakkam have been flooded as nearby lakes overflowed into the city.
The situation has worsened in suburban areas of Tambaram and Mudichur after the Chembarakam lake overflowed and an unprecedented 26,000 cusecs of water was released resulting in floods in downstream areas. These areas had already suffered heavily during earlier spells of rains.
A large part of the road near Madhya Kailash temple in the heart of the city in an area that connects the IT corridor has caved in resulting in a huge crater and disrupting traffic.
MeT department’s Laxman Singh Rathore said: “Extremely heavy rainfall has been occurring for sometime and on Wednesday Tamil Nadu has witnessed 35 cm of rainfall. The intensity, however, will decrease in the next 48 hours and further by 72 hours but it is likely to continue for five to seven days,” he said.
DMK party MP Kanimozhi demanded that the Centre should declare it a national disaster as coastal areas of Tamil Nadu have also been affected.
“The rain is unrelenting and more rains have been predicted in another few more days. I really don’t understand how the state government can handle the situation. We need more resources, more help and everything has to be rushed quickly. We need whatever support Centre can give to the state government,” she said.
Due to floods in Chennai, for the first time since 1878, one of India’s oldest newspapers has not been printed.