Heavy rains through Friday and overnight exposed the poor drainage in Chennai as residents of several low-lying areas had to be rescued on boats manoeuvred by NDRF personnel who had to wade through in chest-deep water.
Some localities such as Guduvancherry and Mannivakkam were in knee-deep water overnight. The city had barely recovered from a low-pressure weather system that brought heavy rains between November 18 and 20. With many localities still reeling from disruption, the fresh spell brought a new set of problems for residents.
Guduvancherry is a southern Chennai suburb that has witnessed immense residential and commercial development over the last decade. Similar to fast-paced construction witnessed by Velachery, a locality of Chennai, Guduvancherry appears to be following a similar trajectory.
Varadarajapuram, another low-lying new settlement off Chennai’s southwest, witnessed NDRF boats plying along the roads to remove stuck residents. Overnight rains and heavy showers boxed people into their homes, cutting off access to and supply of essentials.
The situation is similar across localities such as Mudichur, Madipakkam, pockets off Tambaram and Selaiyur, and areas in Chengalpattu and Kanchipuram districts. If the waterlogging along the suburbs of Chennai is severe, the scenario in its central localities is not any dissimilar.
In T Nagar and KK Nagar, which are densely populated localities where middle-class families and those slightly well-off, jostle for space, flooded roads and parks have brought life to a screeching halt. Across many locations in Chennai, sewage water is flowing onto roads and homes. In some localities in KK Nagar, residents have complained of sewage water contaminating piped water resources, prompting residents to be more careful about water used for cooking.
Chennai and other north Tamil Nadu districts will continue to be on ‘red alert’ till November 29, after which the IMD has predicted normal weather for the city. On Saturday morning, Avadi in Chennai recorded over 20 cm rainfall through Friday, while localities such as Mahabalipuram off south Chennai received 18 cm, indicating a strong pounding for the south, southwestern regions off Chennai.
The current spell of rains have forced the local administration to hunker down on the challenge in a holistic manner. Storm water drains and canals are a matter of heated debate since the massive floods of December 2015, when Chennai’s weather gauges recorded over 100 cm of rainfall through one night. State budgets have allocations for storm water drains almost every year, but the debris-ridden, soggy roadsides after every spell prove there is a lot of work to be done.