Chennai: A week after the north-east monsoon set in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the water logged streets across its capital city Chennai after a heavy downpour on Thursday night reminded the 2015 floods, as well as raised questions on the preparedness of the state administration. In 2015, Chennai was inundated after it received its heaviest rainfall in over a century.
As the intensity of the rain increased on Thursday night, the Tamil Nadu state disaster management authority advised residents of Chennai to stay indoors.
Schools and colleges in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram will remain shut on Friday. Anna University exams have also been postponed due to rains.
The state government has also announced helpline numbers for Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts. All districts helpline is 1077. While it is 1913 for Chennai corporation limit, it is 1070 for the rest of the city.
Earlier on Thursday, the chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami assigned ministers and other officials in all the 15 zones of Greater Chennai Corporation and Kancheepuram districts to coordinate relief operations.
As the northeast monsoon hit the state earlier this week, Tamil Nadu’s municipal administration minister SP Velumani on Tuesday drew much flak as he said: “(Recently) it rained in Bengaluru, earlier it rained in the UK and US and it was flooded everywhere. It shows our action is better than those of developed countries".
While the state government had repeated over a couple of days that they were prepared and could handle the situation, water logging has been prevalent across the city and in the suburbs of Chennai.
Meanwhile on Monday, three days after the monsoon had set in, the Public Works Department (PWD) issued a Government Order sanctioning Rs8.53 crore for “pre-monsoon preparedness works."
As per this order issued by PWD principal secretary S.K. Prabakar, the preparatory works will be carried out in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts “before onset of the North East Monsoon." The works would include “desilting of debris, waste materials and aquatic weed in the major waterways and various tanks."
This, is in contradiction to the claims by the state government which had earlier said that “95% of the monsoon related preparation work" was complete.
Last year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs submitted its report on Disaster in Chennai due by torrential rainfall and consequent flooding in November- December 2015. It said that among other things, “encroachment of lakes and river beds and faulty town planning are major causes for the havoc."
The report, while recommending a priority for regular maintenance of drainage system had also urged the state government to check real estate “mafia in illegal construction and usurping water bodies".