The Madras high court on Tuesday pulled up the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) as several parts of the city continued to be inundated following rains since Saturday. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted extremely heavy rains in the city and neighbouring areas from Wednesday onwards.
Though there has been a respite from rain on Tuesday, with Chennai registering 11 mm rainfall until 5.30 pm, parts of the city are still inundated from heavy rainfall over the weekend. Five people have lost their lives in rain-related incidents across the state on Monday, while 500 huts were damaged, said a statement from the revenue and disaster management.
A bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu warned of suo moto proceedings if the waterlogging was not brought under control. It criticised the corporation for its failure in taking up adequate measures to prevent the inundation.
“Half the year, we are longing for water, and for the rest of the year, we are dying in water in Chennai,” the court said in its oral observations, reported news agencies.
The court, while issuing orders on the PIL, that sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to maintain adequate width of roads in the state said that “It may not be out of context to record that the ongoing rains and the floods in and around Chennai and elsewhere in the State should be a lesson for the government officials to take immediate action against any person attempting to encroach into any water body or the path meant for flowing water during the rainy reason.”
The bench made the observations while hearing public interest litigation on civic issues in the city.
Overnight, from November 6 to November 7, Chennai had received rainfall of 21 cm, which is the highest single-day rainfall recorded for November since 2015. The heavy inundation and water being released from three reservoirs brought back haunting experiences of the December 2015 floods in Chennai, which killed around 400 people across state, and left people marooned for a week.
As weathermen forecasted extremely heavy rainfall over the next 48 hours, the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday announced holidays for schools and colleges in nine districts, including Chennai for the next two days. On Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red warning for six districts which includes Chennai and its adjoining regions.
“Under the influence of the cyclonic circulation over southeast Bay of Bengal & neighbourhood, a low-pressure area has formed over the same region. Associated cyclonic circulation extends up to 4.5 km above mean sea level,” IMD’s bulletin read. “It is very likely to concentrate into a Depression over Southwest and adjoining Southeast Bay of Bengal during the next 36 hours.” This is likely to move west–northwestwards and reach near north Tamil Nadu coast by the early morning of 11th November. “Yesterday’s trough now runs from the cyclonic circulation over southeast Bay of Bengal & neighbourhood to Gulf of Mannar extending up to 5.8 km above mean sea level,” their statement said. The weather agency has forecast thunderstorms and heavy rains in Chennai and delta districts.
The state, having deployed SDRF, NDRF and fire and rescue teams in the vulnerable districts, is bracing for more rains, officials said, adding four helicopters in Sulur Airforce Station and two helicopters of the Navy are on standby. The coast guard will also be engaged in case of emergency, they said.
As many as 2649 people have been moved to relief shelters across the state. The Greater Chennai Corporation brought 1343 people to stay in 169 shelters across the city. “We need to be very careful from November 9 to November 11 as there is an alert for very heavy rainfall. We are taking all precautionary steps across the state,” disaster management minister KSSR Ramachandran told reporters. “The efforts to drain the floodwater from the remaining are in full swing,” disaster management minister KSSR Ramachandran told reporters. Of the 16 underpasses that reported flooding, 14 have been cleared of water (in Chennai).”