STATES

25 cm rain in 9 hours drowns Thoothukudi

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Thoothukudi received a whopping 25 cm of rain within just nine hours on Thursday, forcing weather officials to issue a red alert to the district. The incessant rains left the district reeling with an average rainfall of 9.1 cm between 6 am and 5 pm.

The Thoothukudi airport diverted a flight from Chennai to Tiruchy due to inclement weather while train services were affected as rail tracks were inundated. Even the famous (*25*) Temple was not spared from flooding.  Heavy rains, with thunder and lightning, were seen in several of Tamil Nadu’s southern districts, and hundreds of residential areas and hamlets on the banks of rivers and streams were submerged.

However, the Regional Meteorological Centre said the cyclonic circulation over southwest Bay of Bengal was unlikely to concentrate into a low pressure area. Nonetheless, heavy to very heavy rains would continue to lash TN, Puducherry and Karaikal till Monday. Weather models have predicted massive rains for beleaguered Chennai over the coming weekend and until Wednesday.

As the 2015 extreme rainfall event was also not caused by any major weather system, weather bloggers have urged caution till then. The meteorological department has withdrawn the orange alert for the city and issued a yellow alert (heavy rainfall) for the next two days. 

The heavy downpour left residential colonies in Tirunelveli and Tenkasi inundated while flash floods were seen near the Courtallam waterfalls. Heavy rains lashed Madurai since Thursday afternoon, leaving roads inundated, while Virudhunagar saw a few hours of heavy rainfall. Ramanathapuram recorded 37.6 cm of rainfall in the 12 hours ending 6 pm Thursday. 

In Thoothukudi, airport authorities said the Chennai-Thoothukudi flight, with 51 passengers, scheduled to land at 1.50 pm, was unable to. TN Speaker and Radhapuram MLA M Appavu, who was on the flight, said it was redirected to Tiruchy after repeated attempts to land went in vain due to heavy rains and poor visibility. “Later, the flight landed at Thoothukudi Airport at 5.05 pm,” he added. 

‘Treating and recycling water cheaper option’

“Metro Water Board supplies about 850 megalitres per day (mld) of water, but sewage generation is 700-800 mld. Instead of wasting the water, we can treat and recycle it. It is also a cheaper option. There is a need for proper flood and drought management,” Ramachandran added. The city also has multiple departments looking after the water bodies.

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) looks after the ponds, the Public Works Department (PWD) controls the lakes and Metro Water is in charge of water bodies that provide drinking water. These departments also work in coordination with several other departments to maintain water bodies and marshlands. This has led to several issues.

“For instance, to desilt lakes that have water, there is a separate equipment (which floats on water) and this is with the GCC. But PWD maintains lakes. It costs NGOs desilting the lakes, at least `10-20 crore to buy the equipment. This is why desilting is done with JCBs when the lakes are dry,” explained a retired PWD official.

Similarly, activists complain that authorities neglect most lakes and divert all funds towards desilting a handful. According to Ramachandran, in the past 20 years, 90 per cent of water bodies in the Chennai Metropolitan Area have not been desilted, despite the government allotting crores of rupees for the purpose. “The funds are only used to rejuvenate a few lakes,” he said.

Schools, colleges closed today in several districts
 Following the heavy rains battering the State, Madurai, Sivaganga, Tiruvarur, Tiruchy and Ramanathapuram district administrations have declared a one-day holiday for schools in their respective districts on Friday. The Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi, Dindigul, Theni Pudukkottai, Ariyalur, Perambalur and Virudhunagar district administrations have declared holidays for both schools and 
colleges in their respective districts

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