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Chennai: The day after Vardah struck

By A Ganesh Nadar
December 13, 2016 18:46 IST
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Thanks to the untiring work of civic staff, most of the roads have been cleared. Also, power supply and Internet in most parts of the city have been restored. A Ganesh Nadar/ reports from Chennai.

IMAGE: Foreign nationals walk along an arterial road in Adyar that bore the brunt of cyclone Vardah, in Chennai on Tuesday. Photograph: PTI Photo.

In the destruction caused by Cyclone Vardah in Chennai on Monday, the biggest loser was the city's green cover. Thousands of trees have fallen, about 10 per cent of which were uprooted. Most of the trees have lost branches, and the sights tell a tale of the massive destruction.

IMAGE: Municipal Corporation workers sweep the streets. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/

The other big loser was the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. Over 2,400 electric poles were uprooted in the cyclone and it's going to take a lot of time and money to put them back up.

However, power came back surprisingly in the morning in the low-lying areas of Velacherry. Of course, as always, it was first restored at Greenways Road, as all the ministers live there. In the rest of the city, the power came back in the evening.

The services of private telecom companies collapsed, apparently due to lack of electricity. Amazingly, the normally laid-back State-owned BSNL worked throughout the night and the next day even when there was no power.

IMAGE: Chennai's green cover was hit the most in the cyclone . Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/

The third biggest loser was the cable operators. Each tree or branch fall brought down a few cable wires with them. Most of the cable wires could be seen on the ground and some of them had snapped in the pressure. It will take almost a week for the cable TV services to resume operations.

But, throughout the crisis, the Chennai Municipal Corporation did the most commendable job. In the absence of electricity, they cut trees with battery-powered and diesel-powered saws. Their trucks continuously picked up the fallen branches and their bulldozers and JCB machines pushed aside the gigantic trees that had fallen to clear the roads.

IMAGE: Civic workers spread bleaching powder in most of the waterlogged streets to disinfect them. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/

Their people swept the streets clean of leaves and spread bleaching powder on both sides of the waterlogged roads. This was also done after the tsunami in 2004 and the December floods last year to disinfect the area.

Thanks to their untiring work, most of the roads are already cleared. However, there was not much traffic on the roads because schools were shut and most shops did not open in the morning as there was no power.

Only a fraction of the usual number of buses was seen on the roads. In the morning, all app-based taxi services were off the road, unable to operate without the internet. Even Fast Track, Meru, and NTL (other cab operators in Chennai) did not rise to the challenge.

Now with the power supply restored, private telecom operators have also resumed operation, and the app-based cabs are expected shortly to start services shortly as the internet has started working.

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A Ganesh Nadar / in Chennai
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