Tamil Nadu Govt Releases Rs 8.5 Crore for 'Pre-Monsoon Work' After Chennai Goes Down Under
IT firms have been advised to declare a holiday or enable work from home for their employees to cut traffic congestion. Schools and colleges have also been shut in Chennai after the Met department predicted more heavy rain for Friday.
A flooded street in Velachery area of Chennai on Friday morning. (Poornima Murali/Network18)
Chennai: It took torrential rain to paralyse normal life in Chennai for officials to wake up to the threat of a repeat of the 2015 deluge. Documents accessed by CNN-News18 show that the Public Works Department of Chennai sanctioned funds for “pre-monsoon” work only on October 30, the day that most parts of the city started flooding.
“Government sanctions Rs 853.15 lakh for executing 189 pre-monsoon preparedness work,” reads the government order issued on Monday.
The tasks listed in the order include desilting of debris, waste materials and aquatic weed in the major waterways and various tanks in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts “before onset of the North East Monsoon.” However, the order itself was issued three days after monsoon arrived.
The G.O. revealed that the chief engineer had sent a letter to the PWD in the last week of September urging it to start work and also sent two reminders but the body delayed its administrative approval. It added that monsoon preparedness should be planned well in advance to be effective and details should be ready at least 3-4 months earlier.
This comes even as the Tamil Nadu ministers claimed that the state was better prepared to handle floods than United States and United Kingdom. Local Administration Minister S.P. Velumani pegged the city’s readiness at 98%.
After facing flak for his claims, he said, “When cities in the US were flooded recently, they struggled to solve it. We are handling our state’s problem the best we can.”
But a reality check done by this correspondent showed that no preparedness work was done by the government and no lessons were learnt even after the floods devastated the city two years ago. Bad infrastructure, poor drainage system, lakes and dams filled with garbage are still a reality.
On Thursday, the state government conducted a review meeting. In a press statement, the government said 115 multipurpose shelters have been constructed in coastal districts.
It added that local ministers and three senior bureaucrats have been designated for each district to co-ordinate rescue and expedite relief. In Chennai, two ministers have been designated for each zone. Authorities also said that more suction pumps will be deployed to clear waterlogging in the city.
The government, however, has swung into action only after the heavy rain inundated the city. The Met department has forecast more heavy showers in north coastal Tamil Nadu on Friday and it will test the city’s infrastructure.
Anticipating difficulty, the chief secretary confirmed that IT firms have been advised to declare a holiday or enable work from home for their employees to cut traffic congestion. Schools and colleges have also been shut in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.
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