CHENNAI, Dec 8: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Friday said only due to the completion of storm water drain work ahead of the monsoon season, a massive catastrophe was averted despite unprecedented rains due to the cyclone.
Normalcy has returned to most places in Chennai and nearby areas, which were ravaged by Cyclone Michaung, he said.
Soliciting support from all sections of the society for cyclone relief initiatives, Stalin said he is donating his one month salary.
He urged all MLAs and MPs to similarly contribute to the TN Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund and thanked those who have begun voluntary contributions.
In a post on X, Stalin said a catastrophe on a massive scale was averted only as the government completed storm water drain work by planning well in advance.
In three days, normalcy has returned in most of the areas and in a few places, the relief work is on.
Heavy rainfall caused by cyclone ‘Michaung’ was unseen during the past about 47 years and more than one crore people were affected by the heavy downpour, Stalin said.
Meanwhile, bodies of two workers were taken out by rescue workers –after toiling for nearly five days– from a huge pit at a construction site here.
A member of the NDRF’s specialist team that was involved in the operation to bring out the bodies from the pit on Five Furlong Road said that by deploying divers they first figured out that the depth was over 60 feet, and full of rainwater.
There were other challenges as well since the pit was filled with iron construction equipment and materials. Also, cargo containers customised for construction purposes had submerged.
Surmounting such challenges, the two bodies were eventually brought out on Friday, he said. TN State Disaster Response Force, TN police, Fire and Rescue Services were also involved in the operation.
Police said two site supervisors have been arrested and efforts are on to arrest the owner of the construction firm and its manager.
On December 4 morning, amid rains, a ‘generator room’ (a cargo container, customised to house a generator) of a nearby auto LPG dispensing station slid into the nearby pit on the construction site.
Three staffers of the gas station and an employee of the construction site were trapped in the pit.
Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services on the same day rescued two employees of the LPG station.
Bodies of 21-year old Naresh (gas station worker) and 32-year old Jayaseelan (construction site employee) were taken out on Friday.
Commissioner, Greater Chennai Corporation, J Radhakrishnan, told reporters that the pit was approximately 80 feet deep, a private construction site. Though it was an accident, appropriate legal action would be taken..
Separately, a probe would be conducted on aspects like violations. Portions of the road has also started caving-in, he added.
Agencies involved in the rescue operation including NDRF, State Disaster Response Force, TN Fire and Rescue Services would complete a thorough assessment of the site to ensure safety.
To a question on vehicles that were submerged due to heavy inundation, Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena told reporters the government is in touch with vehicle dealers to facilitate cost-free service. Schools and colleges will reopen on December 11, he added.
Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu chaired a meeting of insurance companies and representatives of dealers of motor vehicles.
Thirteen insurance firms said that so far, a total of 2,320 claims have been received for vehicles, which includes motorcycles, cars and commercial vehicles.
The Minister urged the insurance firms to extend a helping hand to the people and expeditiously settle claims by relaxing norms to the extent possible.
He also urged the insurance companies to hold special camps. The government promised to look into the request of vehicle dealers to provide vacant sites to repair the damaged vehicles.
Municipal Administration Minister K N Nehru, after distributing relief materials to people here said drinking water and other basic necessities for people in affected areas has been ensured.
Only in some localities such as Pallikaranai, Mudichur, Perumbakkam, RK Nagar and a part of Kolathur, water-logging continued. Efforts are on in full swing to drain rainwater in such areas, he said.
In an advisory to authorities, Meena said cooperative department has opened 150 mobile vegetable shops and these should be deployed in areas that need them the most. Outlining several other measures, he said: “We have reached near normal, let’s achieve total normalcy.”
Speaking to media, Meena said power supply has been restored in Chennai but for some places which constitute only “0.04 per cent,” and for such localities too, electricity supply would be back soon.
Transport services and supply of drinking water and milk is normal, the Chief Secretary said.
As regards water supply, there is big improvement and as many as 4,500 trips have been completed using 445 water tankers besides piped water supply.
Police announced that 6,670 cases (e-challans) booked between December 3 and 8 using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras for traffic violations would be cancelled, a one-time measure, considering the cyclone and its aftermath.
Chennai, Kancheepuram, Chengelpet and Tiruvallur in northern Tamil Nadu were hit by the cyclone and heavy inundation.
The state government has sought an interim central relief of Rs 5,060 crore and the Centre has cleared two instalments of Rs 450 crore each to Tamil Nadu.
Under the influence of the severe cyclonic storm ‘Michaung,’ Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chengelpet districts received a total of 109.41 cm rainfall (December 3 and 4). Poonamalle (in Tiruvallur district, a Chennai suburb) received 32 cm and Perungudi (Chennai) received 29 cm. (PTI)