‘Major Disaster Averted’, Say Officials on Chennai Floods

CHENNAI:  A major crisis had been “averted” because of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s “prior planning and vision”, electricity minister Natham Vishwanathan said, as the government sought to explain the Chennai rains crisis that stirred widespread anger among residents.

After the highest rainfall in 100 years and unprecedented flooding, the press conference attended by ministers and top bureaucrats was seen as a reach-out to influence the perception of people who would determine the ruling political party’s fate in elections next year.

Since the crisis worsened this week on Tuesday, forcing the closure of the airport and submerging large parts of Chennai under water, residents have complained about a lack of adequate government efforts.  Authorities have also come under fire for poor urban planning and crisis mitigation.

 

On Friday, ministers and top bureaucrats took turns to share information on what they had done right, under the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s leadership to minimise the impact of Chennai’s worst ever crisis.

Power has been restored in 85 per cent areas, officials claimed, adding that Jayalalithaa has said that restoration should ensure it doesn’t lead to any accident. As much as 65 per cent of buses are operational, they said.

Government officials spoke of getting detailed instructions given by the chief minister on how to avert and deal with the disaster. The number of deaths, they said, was “usual” for every northeast monsoon season.

Journalists however aggressively countered the ministers and bureaucrats with complaints from the people asking why the chief minister herself had not taken time to address the people of Chennai darkest hour of crisis.

At least 245 people have died since October 1 because of rains and the floods that followed. Thousands of people had to be evacuated to safer locations by the Army and disaster response teams as waters reached as high as 18 feet in some areas.- NDTV

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