Wednesday October 18, 2017
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Record rainfall cripples life in Chennai

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Picture Courtesy:-www.livechennai.com

Chennai: After some days of respite, a torrential downpour, termed as the heaviest rainfall in over 100 years, on Tuesday crippled life here, flooding numerous roads, neighborhoods, train tracks and airport runways and crippling transport and power supply, residents said.

People working in offices located in the suburbs were finding it difficult to reach home after work and many were stuck in their office.

Power has been cut in several areas as a precaution, while people have been advised to stay wherever they are.

With water-logging on the airport runway, several flights were delayed. For several hours, flights did not take off or land and hundreds of passengers were stuck inside the airport.

Trains were delayed and some were cancelled as authorities struggled to cope with the aftereffects of the fresh torrential rains in the Tamil Nadu capital.

Water logging on the suburban railway tracks forced the authorities to cancel some services while many trains ran behind schedule. Southern Railways cancelled 12 trains and diverted 15 more.

Big sinkholes on several roads forced the authorities to divert the vehicular flow.

Speaking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said the unprecedented torrential and extremely heavy rains which were the heaviest recorded in the past more than 100 years and has battered the state’s northern districts, especially, Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, and Cuddalore.

She told Modi that the state machinery is fully geared to meet the challenge.

The state has deployed personnel of the State Disaster Response Force, the Fire and Rescue Service personnel, Coastal Security Group in all the affected places.

A flood alert has been issued along the banks of the Adyar river here as surplus water from the Chembarambakkam reservoir have been let out in the river.

According to municipal administration, around 3,000 people living along the banks of Adyar have been relocated to a safer place.

According to reports, three lakes in Kanchipuram district were breached due to heavy rains and inflows.

The weather department has warned of heavy rains in Chennai and northern Tamil Nadu over the next three days. The government has declared a holiday for schools in Chennai and neighboring Kanchipuram district.

During the last spell of rains, around 180 people lost their lives in the four districts of Chennai, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore and Thiruvallur.

(Inputs from IANS)

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Monsoon Bliss: Drenched in Rain Kutch is a Must Visit (Environmental Feature)

The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown transforms into green

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Kutch
Rann Utsav in Kutch. Pixabay

Bhuj, Sep 09, 2017: White, fluffy clouds hanging low over green hills, little pools of still water teeming with migratory birds and an omnipresent cool breeze — the semi-arid region of Kutch in Gujarat transforms into a completely different avatar during the monsoon.

And although winter — the time detailed as “ideal” to visit this region — shows you a side of hers that’s truly unique, Kutch makes for a pretty picture during the rains, perfect for a rejuvenating holiday.

Nestling on the country’s western border, close to the Arabian Sea, Kutch had recently been in the news for the cyclonic storm-induced thundershowers that lasted five days. Before that, and like the rest of the state, floods had also hit the region in July.

“Heavy showers are normal during the monsoon,” local taxi driver and long-time Bhuj resident Anwar Khatri said, indicating that the heavy rainfall was not out-of-the-ordinary. “But in the last three-four years, we have had very scanty rainfall. The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown transforms into green.”

Kutch occupies an important geographical location when it comes to birds, said ornithologist Jugal Kishor Tiwari, since it falls on their migration route. His organisation, Centre for Desert and Ocean (CEDO), works on wildlife conservation and promotes nature tourism.

And although the winter is a brilliant time to spot a host of migratory birds, one can indulge in some bird-watching during the monsoon as well. CEDO, which is based out of Moti Virani village, some 400 km from Gujarat capital Gandhinagar, organises tailor-made tours of such nature.

A visit to Kutch would however be incomplete without witnessing its rich treasure trove of handicrafts. Ajrakh (block printing), camel leather craft, Bandhni, different forms of weaving, bellmetal craft, Kutch embroidery — the list is endless — and nothing beats the wonder of watching an artisan work on his or her craft.

After the devastating earthquake in 2001, several NGOs took up the initiative of supporting artisans and their art, even reviving some, and helping them find suitable markets to showcase and sell their products beyond the state’s and the nation’s borders.

There are many such NGOs within a radius of 10-15 kilometres from Bhuj — the point you will either fly down to or reach by train — and one can visit their campuses to see some of these exquisite crafts take shape and understand the story behind them from the artisans themselves. Some names to look out for would be Shrujan, Khamir, and LLDC (Living and Learning Design Centre).

About eight kilometres from Bhuj is a village called Bhujodi, which has the Ashapura Crafts Park set up for artisans to display and sell their work. Again, one can meet weavers, tie-dye artists, block printers and others here. Needless to say, it will leave you wanting for more shopping bags to fill!

From the well-known to the lesser known — a monsoon visit to Kutch would also remain wanting without a trip to one of its pristine beaches. Mandvi is the closest to Bhuj and there are many resorts close by with their own private beach enclosures. The high point of the beaches here — Pingleshwar, about 98 km from Bhuj, a hidden gem — is witnessing the marine life. Jelly fish and hermit crabs are a common sight and the multi-coloured sea weeds look extraordinary.

Also Read: History of Rigvedic river Saraswati

If the children are more in the mood for some fun and frolic, Mandvi has ample opportunity for water sports as well — which may be restricted when the weather is grey. But a ride on a camel would more than compensate for that!

With the temperature hovering on the pleasant side of the scale and a constant breeze, one can also opt for some historical sight-seeing. The Aina Mahal, with its blue tiles, Venetian-style chandeliers and walls studded with mirrors, is a must-visit. Next door is the 19th century Prag Mahal, a brilliant example of Italian-Gothic architecture.

As you travel around the place and move on the fringes of the main town of Bhuj, it is difficult to miss the vast expanses of agricultural land with acres after acres of pomegranate plantations, palm groves and cotton fields — all this thanks to drip-irrigation, which has brought about a sea-change in the region’s crop pattern. With the green hills in the backdrop, it’s a sight to behold. Soak it in, for, with the changing season, Kutch will soon reveal a different face. (IANS)

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After 74-day Struggle, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa Loses Battle with Life

Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, one of India's most charismatic political leaders, died here on Monday night after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics

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Tamil Nadu CM J. Jayalalithaa passes away. Twitter

December 6, 2016: Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, one of India’s most charismatic political leaders, died here on Monday night after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics and plunging the state in deep grief. She was 68.

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Jayalalithaa, a spinster, breathed her last at the Apollo Hospitals just before midnight, over 24 hours after she suffered a cardiac arrest that derailed the halting progress she had been making on the health front.

“It is with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11.30 p.m.,” the hospital said in a statement.

As Jayalalithaa’s death became known, a loud wail rent the air outside the Apollo hospital where thousands had gathered since her cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hoping against hope that she would survive.

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Her body was taken to her residence at Poes Garden, where hundreds of AIADMK cadre were present. Police used batons to keep inconsolable mourners away who tried to break the security barricades outside their leader’s house.

The body will be kept at the Rajaji Hall for people to pay their respects, said the AIADMK, which the actor-turned-politician headed for nearly three decades after the death of her mentor and Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran or MGR.

The last rites will be held at the Marina Beach later on Tuesday.

As national leaders expressed grief, the Tamil Nadu government declared a seven-day mourning. Schools and colleges in the sprawling state will be closed for three days.

In no time, the AIADMK legislators elected Finance Minister and long-time Jayalalithaa loyalist O. Panneerselvam to succeed the departed leader.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Panneerselvam took the oath of office and secrecy. Thirty-one ministers were also sworn-in with him.

A veteran actor, the self-made Jayalalithaa, who was five times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was admitted to the Apollo hospital on September 22 with fever and dehydration, just four months after she led the AIADMK to triumphantly retain power in assembly elections.

At one time it seemed she was on the road to recovery but that proved to be an illusion.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying homage to Jayalalithaa, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha at the start of her political career.

In his lengthy message, Mukherjee described Jayalalithaa as “one of India’s most charismatic and popular leaders … a visionary and (an) able administrator…

“She was progressive in her thought and pro-active in pursuing the issues that were close to her heart, such as the empowerment of women and welfare of children.

“Her life was dedicated to the socio-economic transformation of Tamil Nadu and its people. Her contribution to the progress and development of Tamil Nadu will be long remembered.”

Modi, who enjoyed a personal rapport with Jayalalithaa, said her demise had left a huge void in Indian politics.

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Defining her as a mass leader, Modi said: “Jayalalithaaji’s connect with citizens, concern for welfare of the poor, the women and marginalised will always be a source of inspiration.”

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who too had counted the AIADMK leader as an ally for years, said Jayalalithaa lived the entire life with the same “indomitable courage with which she battled her last illness”.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called her “popular, strong, bold, efficient, people-friendly, charismatic leader”.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described her death as “very saddening”. He announced a day’s mourning in his state.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Very sad to hear the demise of Amma. A very very popular leader. Aam Aadmi’s leader. May her soul rest in peace.”(IANS)

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Rain fury in Tamil Nadu kills over 100

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Chennai: Over 100 people were killed as Tamil Nadu continued to experience monsoon fury with heavy rains pounding various parts of the state under the influence of a well-marked low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal.

There seemed to be no respite from the downpour with many parts of the city getting submerged. Things might get worse as the forecast predicts more rains in the next 24 hours.

The India Meteorological Department said in a bulletin on Sunday that the well-marked low-pressure area over southwest Bay of Bengal adjoining Sri Lanka persisted and “it is likely to move west-northwestwards towards Tamil Nadu coast and would concentrate into a Depression during next 24 hours.”

Under its influence, more rains are expected in the next 24 hours, the Regional Meteorological Department said.

Anaikaracharthiram (Nagapattinam) received the maximum rainfall of 18 cm recorded till 8:30 am, RMC Director SR Ramanan said, adding, Sirkali from the same district registered 17 cm. Chennai received three cm rainfall between 8:30 am and 11:30 am on Sunday.

He said heavy to very heavy rains could be expected in the northern coastal districts of the state in the next 24 hours while there could be rain in the rest of the districts.

Rains were also expected in Puducherry on Monday.

The seas would be rough, he said, warning fishermen against venturing for fishing.

Meanwhile, four persons died due to various rain-related incidents on 13 and 14 November, the government said.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa condoled the death of the four persons, three of whom died due to drowning in Kancheepuram district while one person in Vellore was killed in a wall collapse. She announced a sum of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the victims from the Disaster Relief Fund.

The incessant rains severely crippled normal life in the state capital Chennai, where most roads, residential areas and low-lying areas were inundated.

Subways at suburban Chennai connecting the residential areas were inundated, rendering them useless for commutation.

The sparse Sunday crowd of motorists were seen discussing alternative routes to reach their respective destinations.

Water-clogged roads resulted in slow movement of vehicles even as pedestrians were seen wading through waist-deep to knee-deep water in many places. Many residents were forced to stay put inside their homes following the inclement weather. Trains on the suburban Chennai Egmore-Tambaram were running slow.

The inclement weather also affected flight services. A Colombo-Chennai Sri Lankan flight was diverted back to that city while a city-bound IndiGo aircraft from Delhi was diverted to Bengaluru, airport officials said. A Silk Air flight from Singapore to Chennai was also diverted to Bengaluru, they said, adding that many services were delayed by between 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, the government announced the closure of schools and colleges in Chennai on Monday. Educational institutions in several coastal districts including Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Tiruchirappalli, and Vellore in the northern part of the states would remain closed on Monday in view of the rains, officials said.

In Coimbatore, BJP’s state unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan said the party would submit a detailed report on the situation in the rain-battered Cuddalore district to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BJP national general secretary Muralidhar Rao, who is in-charge of party affairs in Tamil Nadu, would soon submit the report on the situation in Cuddalore, which bore the brunt of the monsoon fury so far, she told reporters in Chennai.

Replying to a question why Modi, who had announced Rs 1,000 crore to rain-affected Jammu and Kashmir, was “silent” on the plight of the state, she said that he had already expressed his deep regrets about the devastation on social media.

Moreover, it was the duty of the state government to send a report to the Centre, highlighting the problems, so that it can announce suitable funds, she said.

She also said Cuddalore should be declared as natural disaster-prone district and relief measures should be taken on a war footing in both Cuddalore and Chennai, which has also been affected by the incessant rains.

Lack of proper infrastructure in Chennai was the major reason for the “pathetic situation”, she alleged referring to waterlogging in several areas.

As many as 135 residents of Danushkodi, about 20 km from Rameswaram, were rescued by Police and Fire and Rescue Service personnel after they were surrounded by rain and sea water.

Most parts of Dhanushkodi was inundated, a report from Rameswaram quoting police said.

Earlier, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister S Sunararaj chaired a meeting in Rameswaram to discuss flood relief measures and asked officials to be on high alert.

(With inputs from various sources)

(Picture credit:news.tamilnaduonline.in)