With the northeast monsoon about to set upon Tamil Nadu soon, the state administration is gearing up to face what the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts will be a spell of excessive rainfall.
According to the IMD, the northeast monsoon season is the major period of rainfall activity over the southern peninsula of the country, particularly in the eastern half comprising the meteorological subdivisions of coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and Tamil Nadu-Puducherry.
For Tamil Nadu alone, it accounts for 48% of the state’s annual rainfall wherein coastal districts receive 60% of their annual rainfall.
Speaking to TNM, S Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, Chennai says the forecast is for 112% of normal to above normal rainfall this monsoon season. “Individual rainfall episodes are not predicted well ahead of time. As the time approaches, we will continue to monitor the weather pattern,” he informs.
However, he says that one cannot predict if the October to December monsoon will be worse than the ones before.
Last week, Minister RB Udhayakumar, who heads the Revenue and Disaster Management Department, said that the state is prepared to face any kind of onslaught that the monsoon may bring.
Detailing the preparedness levels of the state and the response of various district administrations to circulars issued by the department, he said a weekly assessment will take place with all districts, including Chennai.
“In order to tackle the northeast monsoon, officials of the revenue department in coastal and hilly districts will be trained for three days by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre,” he informed.
Ever since the 2015 Chennai floods that ravaged the state’s capital city, the northeast monsoons have become a worrying prospect for many in the state. However, the minister assured that based on the previous rainfall records and flooding in the state, the state has identified vulnerable locations and categorised them into four based on the extent to which they have been affected in the past.
Providing figures for the same, he said, “4,399 locations will be affected by continuous and heavy rains, based on previous records. Most affected areas are 578 in number. 892 locations will be affected to a high degree and 1,206 will be marginally affected. 1,723 locations will be affected to a lesser extent.”
On the subject of disaster preparedness, the minister said 662 zonal commissions have been set up with officials who will conduct regular assessments on the preparations for the monsoon.
“For community participation, training has been given to 30,759 first respondents who are familiar with the area, its topography and can swim. Of this, 9,162 are women,” he said.
In order to alleviate possible flooding in these areas, the minister also spoke about the desilting work that has been undertaken across the state.
He said, “8,417 encroachments in water resources have been removed. 6,534 bridges which had blockages have been cleared. Culverts won’t be able to take in water so they have to be altered with immediate effect. So 8,863 pipe and box culverts were altered. 68 small pipes have been changed. There are 4,490 recharge wells. 7,986 defunct wells have been converted into recharge wells.”
In addition to these, 7,256 check dams have been constructed and 14,583 lakes have been restored. The minister also said that the data, collected from the 32 revenue districts in the state, showed that 55,62,386 houses and 5,61,308 private companies in Tamil Nadu were equipped for rainwater harvesting.
With weekly monitoring by the Revenue Secretary, the minister said that meetings for drought preparedness and shortage of drinking water are also underway. Plans are also on to give away the desilted sand from the water bodies to farmers free of cost, under the MNREGA scheme.
In addition to this, veterinary doctors have been provided with training as first respondents. The department will also identify grazing areas and camps for animals and livestock.
Heavy rainfall districts in the state have been identified as Coimbatore, Theni, Tirunelveli, Sivagangai, Tiruppur, Virudhunagar, Erode, Nilgiris and Kanyakumari. These are areas where the water level has increased by at least over 75%, the minister said.
In conjunction with the PWD, people in low-lying areas in these districts have been asked to take precautions. The southwest monsoon this year brought heavy rains to these parts.
The minister added that awareness is being spread and warnings issued through tandoras, the local press and TV channels.
Thoothukudi is the sole district that has experienced moderate rainfall.
Low rainfall districts include Namakkal, Dindigul, Salem, Karur, Madurai, Pudukottai, Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Cuddalore, Thiruvannamalai, Tiruchirappalli, Perambalur, Ramanathapuram, Dharmapuri, Ariyalur, Vizhupuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur.