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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)

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Incessant Rain Brings North East India to a halt, badly affects normal life

Officials of India Meteorological Department (IMD) predict that due to the depression, the rains accompanied by a light squall would continue till Sunday.

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Low lying areas, patches of roads, paddy fields and several houses have been inundated by the rain water in Tripura. VOA

Guwahati, October 22, 2017 : Normal life was badly affected in most parts of the northeastern region due to the incessant rains since Thursday due to a hyperactive depression in the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Officials of India Meteorological Department (IMD) predict that due to the depression, the rains accompanied by a light squall would continue till Sunday.

Low lying areas, patches of roads, paddy fields and several houses were inundated by the rain water in Tripura.

Incessant rainfall also continued in different parts of Assam on Saturday, with brief intervals at some places since Friday evening dampening the festive spirit.

An official of the Tripura Disaster Control Centre said though the water level in most of rivers in Tripura is heavily increased, they are flowing below the danger level.

ALSO READ Exclusive : Our Islands Are Vanishing! | Tracing the Inundation of Parali I Island

Tripura Revenue and Relief Minister Badal Choudhury and Urban Development Minister Manik Dey, accompanied by officials, visited some rain affected areas and assessed to take some future measures to check inundation of water.

The IMD office in Agartala recorded 157 mm rainfall since Friday morning.

“A light to moderate rain occurred at most places over Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura with isolated heavy rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura along with isolated very heavy rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and light rain occurred at most places over Nagaland during the last 24 hours,” said a senior official of the Regional Meteorological Centre at Guwahati on Saturday.

“Heavy and very heavy rain fall at isolated places were predicted over Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya on Sunday too,” he said. (IANS)

 

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Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

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We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

Rameswaram island
An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Rameswaram island
Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (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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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)