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Opinion

Heavy rains hit Chennai as Tamil Nadu braces for cyclone Nivar tomorrow

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A day before Cyclone Nivar is expected to make landfall on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, heavy rains hit various parts of the state, including Chennai, accompanied by strong winds and high tides on Tuesday, even as the state government announced a public holiday on Wednesday. .

The cyclone is expected to make landfall between Mamallapuram and Karaikal on November 25 late at night with a wind speed of up to 120 km / h, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. Extremely high rainfall has been forecast in coastal regions such as Chennai, Cuddlaore, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, and Villupuram.

With 43,409 first responders, a dozen rescue teams and rescue personnel have been deployed, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the coast guard. “We have made our moves to prepare for the cyclone. We have to leave it up to nature now and respond, ”said Phanindra Reddy, senior secretary and commissioner of the state department of disaster mitigation and management.

READ ALSO | Cyclone Nivar: Secure all possible support to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry del Centro, tweets PM Modi

Although Tamil Nadu has learned lessons from its previous cyclones — Gaja in 2018 and Vardah in 2016 to prepare for heavy rains and winds, this year the state faces an additional challenge from the Covid-19 pandemic. This time, the cyclone relief centers have doubled to 8,813 to accommodate the same number of 2.5 lakh people to ensure social distancing.

“We didn’t want the relief camps to end up becoming super spreaders,” Reddy said, adding that people will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms in the camps. As of Tuesday night, fewer than 1,000 people had moved there, but authorities expect a larger crowd tomorrow as the cyclone approaches shore.

Prime Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced a public holiday on Wednesday urging people to stay indoors. Essential services will continue to function. “We have taken all precautions so that people are not affected by cyclone Nivar. There is no need to panic, ”he said, after inspecting an emergency control room in Chennai. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Palaniswami and V Narayanaswamy, CM of Puducherry, on Tuesday assuring them of the Center’s attendance.

READ ALSO | Cyclone Nivar: Puducherry imposes prohibitive orders, allows opening stores that sell essential products

In Chennai, officials asked people not to panic when water levels rose in the Chembarambakkam reservoir and additional water was poured into the Adyar River. The Chembarambakkam overflow had caused the devastating floods in Chennai in 2015. “The situation is under control,” said Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner G Prakash. The city has opened 80 relief camps with another 80 on hold. Civic workers in Chennai were forced to clear flooded roads when the city received heavy rains since Monday night.

However, authorities were more concerned about the impact of winds that would uproot trees and blow away tin leaves and roofs that could be fatal to people if they stay outdoors. District administrations are operating control rooms with emergency numbers for the public to call.

The coast guard has placed 15 disaster management teams and two helicopters are on standby. Four offshore patrol vehicles will be available to assist the fishermen and in Chennai there are five flood relief teams and a diving team. The southern railways canceled 24 trains, including those connecting Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Suburban train services have also been suspended since Wednesday until new orders.

The Puducherry administration has opened a 24×7 control room in coordination with various teams and has established 96 relief camps.

“When necessary, they will be moved, we don’t want to unnecessarily create an access point,” said T Arun, a collector from Puducherry, who was confident in his mitigation efforts. “Last week we got 72mm of rain and it didn’t cause any chaos,” Arun said.

“Our only concern is the people who venture out, that is why we have prohibited the movement and we have asked the families to stock up on the essentials. Puducherry also has many trees that we have been pruning for the last two weeks so they are not uprooted. The authorities have also removed precarious posters and billboards. ”

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