Air & train services resume partially; 24-hour operations likely from today.
Chennai : Partial air and train services resumed here on Sunday. In fact, there are indications from the Airports Authority of India officials that the Chennai airport will resume 24-hour domestic and international flight operations on Monday. There are some concerns about flight landings after sunset and officials are trying to procure special equipment for instrument landing. Much to the relief of passengers stranded here due to cancelled flights and trains, the national carrier was the first to resume its service and ran three flights from Chennai to Port Blair, New Delhi and Hyderabad. Jet Airways operated between Chennai and Bengaluru and Indigo on the Bangalore-Chennai-Mumbai-Delhi sectors.
Regular train services from Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore — the two main railway stations – have also resumed. The railways ran 70 special trains on Sunday and carried 45,000 passengers. The Southern Railway has announced that 80 per cent trains, including long-distance, will be operational from Monday morning. Chennai’s bus services have also improved — a bit. Services of mobile and landline phones are patchy. But supply of oil to fuel stations has improved, officials said. Private and public sector banks functioned to clear the backlog caused by the rains, which had paralysed ATM services. The rain holiday, however, will continue in schools and colleges till further notice.
But even after days of disruption there was no respite from intermittent rain. Compounding Chennai’s worries is the forecast of more heavy rain in the next few days owing to low pressure over the Bay of Bengal. Chennai appeared to be split into two: one (mostly northern parts) and suburbs still under flood water and without power, and another where water levels have receded and electricity supply has been restored. The situation appeared to be no different in the other three districts — Thiruvallur, Kanchipuram and Cuddalore — where the heaviest rains in almost 100 years and floods have claimed around 325 lives.
The floods, which have made millions miserable, also revealed the good, the bad and the ugly sides of people and organizations. It was heartening to see individuals open up their residences to strangers and provide food and shelter. Without waiting for the official agencies, they provided whatever they could — biscuits, blankets and more. Those having access to the internet posted messages on social media sites and alerted the agencies about stranded people, so that help could reach them. But, on the flip side, at several places greedy traders were making a kill selling water, milk and food articles at disproportionately high prices. “Our apartment is flooded. Yesterday, a man swam to our second floor residence and sold a milk packet for Rs.150,” a woman said, adding she was grateful she had at least got some milk.
Chennai is clearly angry. People blamed the apathy of civic authorities for the flooding of their homes — and the near destruction of everything they possessed. There are also allegations that rescue operations are being delayed due to poor coordination between rescue teams and local officials. According to the sources, no one from the local administration is ready to take call on relief material distribution while the Army, Navy and NDRF are handling operations independently. “The crisis has shown the true picture of Chennai. Since 2011, the sewage lines were brimming. The storm water drains were not cleared. When it poured sewage water started overflowing,” resident V. Nitya told IANS. “Roads were laid without digging out the earlier layer, resulting in roads being elevated and being built higher than ground level. As a result, rain water flooded our homes,” she added. One constant refrain was that “no official agency brought us any food or drinking water. Only residents gave us biscuits and water,” an angry resident of MGR told the media.
- Sathya summed up the city’s mood: “No one will again call it ‘Singara Chennai’ (Beautiful Chennai). It is ‘Sakadai Chennai’ (Sewage Chennai).” –