Citizens' Issues
Nature's fury and memories of tsunami in 21st Century Chennai
I came to the city after five years. My Chennai - of smiles, caring, joys and tears. I came in, despite having seen the pictures of inundated first-floors of houses on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, or OMR, now unrecognisable by the crowding of buildings and offices. This was once the great road that took you south from the city.
 
I had asked visiting family friends from Chennai last week if the whole city was flooded after the mid-November rains. They said, only South of Chennai was, generally. "They have built on the marshes", they said, and that's why OMR is flooded, sending me photographs on smart phones.
 
Aha...I had thought. In the age of technology, evidence is just one click away. To make a decision on whether to go, I now had an instant reality-check tool. 
 
When I landed at Meenambakkam, it was dry. The road department had opened up the Madhya Kailash turning towards the Governor's House - closed for several years because of the Metro Rail construction. 
 
I had been in Chennai for two days. And it was only drizzling. I decided to finish my work and then plan out the rest of the week.
 
But it rained all Monday night. Still, I set out for Fort S. George on a gray, windy morning. There was ankle-deep water before the house, just a yard away from the waiting vehicle on the road. 
 
I was going in search of history. I had planned to visit St Mary's Church in the Fort before beginning work on a new book. I remembered once going into George Town, just behind the huge musty-smelling mansions, where thousands still lived. Walking along the perimeter walls, I reached the cell-like rooms in the warren of government offices in the Fort where the documents I needed to look at were. 
 
At 9 a.m. the city looked rainwashed and fresh. But as soon as we turned into Beach Road from Adayar, the traffic started slowing. 
 
The driver said the Chembarambakkam Lake gates were open so that water could flow into the river and out to the sea. Kottur was already flooded, he said. 
 
As soon as the rains came in, we knew the city was going to get flooded. We turned into the narrow Srinivasapurum Kuppam Road, the southern extreme of the vast Marina. A gale was blowing by then and the fishermen's beach was just a narrow strip. The Marina wore a desolate look. The lingering memories of the 2004 tsunami surfaced. 
 
I took pictures on my phone to send them to my family. Looking out from the tenth floor of the Secretariat, the city looked calm and stoic at two in the afternoon. The television kept playing shots of bodies being recovered by villagers from far flung farms. By three, I decided to return. 
 
My colleagues talked of the El Nino effect. The driver said the state had not been without rain during Amma's rule, the moniker used for Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha. He meant it was a blessing. Rains during the south-west monsoon for Chennai are normal for this time of the year. But the deluge seems extraordinary, hardly a blessing. 
 
The Met Office said that there were three depressions over Sri Lanka, moving to west Indian coast via Chennai. That meant more rains. Gandhi Nagar, where I lived, was completely under water by four. The power utilities had begun cutting off electricity supply, area by area. It was dark at home. The television screen was dead.
 
We used a inverter-lit single light to work, read, charge phones and laptops. The landline phone and the wi-fi connection were off. By six o'clock my WhatsApp was full of pictures from friends, of road caving-in at Madhya Kailash and other disasters. Someone sent me a photo of the flooded airport. 
 
Thank God for smart phones, inverters and WhatsApp, I thought.
 
"Come back at once," a relative called to say. I tried to make light of the situation, saying I had yet not grown wings. I waded out in search of water and milk as a friend had called to remind us that we must store. Another picture came on the phone showing that the Indira Nagar drinking water pipe had burst, spewing a six-foot-high fountain. Water, water everywhere. 
 
South Chennai was reeling under water coming from Chembarabakkam. Amusingly, the Taramani Water Studies Institute was under shoulder-high water. They could now do all their studies in-house. 
 
I could not leave, even if I wanted to. No wonder, IT companies on OMR flew their employees every November to their Bangalore offices to meet foreign commitments. Not all had been able to do that, this time.
 
A reporter stuck on a plane ready to take off sat on the tarmac for four hours before being de-boarded, with two hundred others. The airport was closed for two days. The National Disaster Response Force troops were on the streets.
 
During dinner, we heard that the Vandaloor zoo has been breached. On the first floor we were better than those animals, I imagined them groping around in their cages for escape. I am safe and dry. A relative bought me a return ticket for four days later, hoping the plane would take off. 
 
The invertor has given up after fourteen hours. Water and milk has run out. The maids came wading, saying there were rumours that a thousand people had died in the deluge. Vast areas of standing crops had been destroyed. App-based taxi service Ola has requistioned fishing boats, turning them into taxis to ferry passengers to higher grounds.
 
The rain has stopped, but not the misery. In Nature versus Technology, there are no winners. In a modern city, we are reduced to surviving like our forefathers. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Anand Vaidya

1 year ago

Can't they store all this rainwater somewhere like in tanks, borewell recharges etc? and lay canals to divert the seasonal flood water to drier parts of TN? Then they could stop quarrelling for even more water from Kaveri (Karnataka)

Navi Mumbai getting ready for a Rs35,000 crore 'Smart City' project
City Planning organisation CIDCO will develop seven nodes and a greenfield project Pushapak Nagar in Navi Mumbai, under the Smart City Mission. No funds will be drawn from the government 
 
The City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO), a city planning organisation created by the state Government, is all geared to launch its 'smart city' project worth Rs35,000 crore. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will unveil the smart city plan of CIDCO on Friday. 
 
According to media reports, the city planning organisation is not taking any funds from the government and instead plans to use its own fund and take support from private corporations to complete the CIDCO Navi Mumbai South smart city project spread over about 75 sq kms.
 
"The brownfield project (developing on existing facilities) including Panvel, Dronagiri, Kamothe, Kalamboli, Kharghar, Ulwe and Taloja nodes, and the greenfield project Pushpak Nagar (2.5sq km) near the airport will be developed by CIDCO at a cost of about Rs35,000 crore. Equipped with smart roads, transport, security, tech-driven, citizen-friendly administration, CIDCO Navi Mumbai South is expected by 2019," the report says.
 
Earlier in August, the Central Government unveiled a list of 98 cities under its Smart City Mission. Five years down the line, of the 98 cities and towns will graduate into smart cities, 24 are capital cities, another 24 are business and industrial centres, 18 are culture and tourism influenced areas, five are port cities and three are education and health care hubs. Navi Mumbai is one of the 10 cities selected for the Mission in Maharashtra.
 
Next month on Republic Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce the final list of 10 cities to be developed as Smart City, which will be selected at the state and central level. Navi Mumbai will make its presentation at the state level on 5th December and if selected, it will do the same at the central level on 15th December.
 
Sanjay Bhatia, Managing Director of CIDCO told the newspaper that "The cities (under CIDCO Smart City Project) will be ready by 2019 and are being created to cater to the 8.4 lakh jobs that will be created on account of the several infrastructure projects worth Rs50,000 crore. Many of them are already past the tender stage."
 
Separately, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) initiated steps to appoint operators for Ferry Wharf (Bhaucha Dhakka) in Mumbai to Nerul in Navi Mumbai and Ferry Wharf-Mandwa (in Raigad district) inland water transport services. While Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) will build terminals at Ferry Wharf, CIDCO will construct terminals at Nerul and Mandwa.
 
This water transport service will cut the commuting time to almost half for people from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai. It must be noted, former Minister Ganesh Naik, who was also Guardian Minister of Thane, used to travel many times, via his personal boat from his residence in Navi Mumbai to Mumbai in less than half an hour. 
 
The MMB, which is the implementing agency, plans to begin the water transport services as early as in 2017. It had already received the administrative nod from the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, early this week.

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COMMENTS

manoharlalsharma

1 year ago

Navi Mumbai getting ready for a Rs35,000 crore 'Smart City' project./its' a laughable subject material we all know that this is the New developments and shifting population is from Mumbai it self so where is the shortfall of money in making and why required? this city is GENRETTING enough fund as Taxes.

Jyoti Dua

1 year ago

A second airport, a smart city and Water Transport service in Navi Mumbai will benefit many people living in Navi Mumbai. In the process many jobs will be created during construction and after wards. State / Central Govt should plan to shift some of its office there. All this will reduce pressure on infrastructure in main city.

Visibly upset Modi leaves Lok Sabha amid uproar
A visibly upset Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the Lok Sabha on Wednesday as opposition members created a din demanding the sacking of minister V.K. Singh.
 
After some 40 minutes of uproar, during which Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's repeated requests to the protesting MPs to calm down fell on deaf ears, Modi left the house.
 
The opposition MPs said they wanted Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh out of the government for making "derogatory comments" against Dalits.
 
The trouble began soon after the house met for question hour as opposition members assembled near the speaker's chair shouting slogans against the minister.
 
"V.K. Singh should resign!" they shouted. Mahajan tried to pacify them on one hand and asked the rest of the house to continue with parliamentary business.
 
Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah looked on from the front rows of the treasury benches.
 
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also tried to pacify the agitated members, saying the minister had already clarified the issue and there was no point stretching it further.
 
As the question hour got over amid the din, the speaker again requested the opposition to let the house function but the protesting MPs instead walked out.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

User

COMMENTS

manoharlalsharma

1 year ago

the opposition forgets the CITIZENS look and see live the reason left only 40 from 400 will not be 40 at next election they raise unfit subjects and only to stall proceedings,Rules to make stricter to stick only listed business.

Anand Vaidya

1 year ago

Congress led opposition has converted Parliament into a fish market where hooliganism rules. Voters should remember this behaviour during next election and kick out these anti-nationals

Madan Mohan Gupta

1 year ago

LET ALL WEAKER SECTIONS ON CASTE/ECONOMICAL BASIS BE GIVEN +7% MARKS AND LOCAL CANDIDATES +5% MARKS THEN LET THEM COMPETE EQUALLY ON THE BASIS OF MARKS OBTAINED.

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