Chennai gets break from rain, but water release from lakes floods new areas

CHENNAI: Rain abated in Chennai on Thursday giving relief to people tormented by the heavy downpour in the last three days, but excessive discharge of water last night from Chembarambakkam lake on the outskirts has flooded new areas in the city and threatens to displace people from their homes.

Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army, Navy and commandos of police and fire service personnel were deployed for rescue and relief works in the worst-affected areas of Kotturpuram, Jafferkhanpet and Nandanam on the banks of the Adyar river that has been in spate for the last two days.

For the first time in over 40 years, the water has risen rapidly on the river breaching the road and the Maraimalai Adigal bridge in Saidapet cutting the arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road), rendering it out of bounds for motorists.

Though there has been no rain since Wednesday night, the fresh flooding of the streets in the heart of the city in areas like Kodambakkam and T Nagar and Ashok Nagar has been caused by the release of an estimated 30,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, one of city’s sources of drinking water.

The reservoir has been overflowing because of heavy inflow due to rain in the catchment area.

People in the city are worried about the forecast of showers over the next three days.

Chief minister Jayalaliathaa has made an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas of Chennai and its suburbs.

Milk and other essentials like vegetables are in short supply. A half-litre packet of milk was being sold at Rs 50 in many areas.

Diesel and petrol are in short supply and there are long queues of motorists at the few number of petrol pumps that supply them.

Over 50,000 people have been rescued from flooded homes in various areas and lodged in relief centres opened by the Chennai Corporation.

The Air Force and Army are said to be rushing in with supplies for the people in distress.