Along with the damage to life and property caused by Cyclone Gaja, residents of Tamil Nadu have been forced to deal with disrupted power supply from Thursday. The power supply was cut off in the districts of Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Dindigul, Cuddalore, Sivaganga and Trichy ahead of the cyclone. And now, four days later, the Tamil Nadu electricity board is still struggling to restore power in most areas, with the cyclone have wreaked enormous damage to electrical poles and power supply lines.
According to figures released by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), 22,680 high tension poles and 63,156 low tension poles have been damaged in Tamil Nadu. A survey has been conducted in Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Dindugal, Ramnad, Sivagana, Theni and Cuddalore. Most of the damage to the poles was witnessed in Pudukottai. A total of 84,836 poles have been affected as of Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, 1,152 km of high tension lines and 3,087 km of low tension lines were damaged due to the cyclonic winds. A total of 841 distribution transformers have been damaged.
Talking to TNM, a source in TANGEDCO says, "We are expecting the numbers to increase. We believe that at least one lakh poles have been damaged. EB has faced more damage than any other department due to cyclone Gaja. Our first priority is to fix any damage in sub-stations. Out of 206, work is pending in only 56 substations. As of now, the count is at close to 85,000 poles but we believe it will go up to over a lakh."
Reports suggest that the work will be completed in 10 days but authorities are skeptical, as more damage is being discovered as they move throught the districts.
"We can't give an exact date as of now," he admits. "First the survey has to be completed, damages rectified and after that, they will give power supply, check and monitor. This is the only way to prevent any loss of life. Our employees are working day and night," he adds.
8,216 local staff and 5,413 staff from other districts have been deployed in the affected districts.
More rain is expected in Tamil Nadu from November 19, even as the state takes stock of the damage wreaked by cyclone Gaja. A low-pressure area that has formed over the Bay of Bengal will bring in the much-needed rain to Chennai, but will then move on to northern coastal and interior districts that are still recovering from the heavy cyclonic winds that caused loss of life and property this week.
According to the IMD, the low-pressure area is likely to strengthen over the next 24 hours and will move north to make landfall on the Tamil Nadu coast. It will not, however, intensify into a cyclone, the meteorological department told the media. Cyclone Gaja, which made landfall near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam on November 16, has already claimed 45 lives across the state, according to a statement released by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on Sunday.