The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel have been deployed for rescue and relief operations in rain-hit Chennai.
While 15 teams of the NDRF have already been deployed in Tamil Nadu, three additional teams from Bhubaneswar and four from Delhi are being pressed into action in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
A total of 16 rescue and relief teams of the Army, along with four columns of the Army Engineers have been deployed in the critical areas of Chennai. An additional 12 rescue and relief teams, along with three Army Engineers teams, were moved on Wednesday, and are expected to be deployed in Chennai by Thursday morning.
The IAF has already deployed two MI-17 choppers at Tambaram and two MI-17s are being moved from Tirupati to Chennai for relief and rescue operations. Five Chetak helicopters are also operating from Tambaram. In addition, two MI-17s at Bengaluru and two at Nagpur are on stand-by.
The Centre held a series of meetings to assess the damage on Wednesday. While Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi directed senior officers of the disaster management division to stay in constant touch with the state government to provide any assistance necessary.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters that he had spoken to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday to assess the situation and asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to ensure all help from the armed forces.
According to a release from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Gnanadesikan informed the Centre that the state had adequate arrangements and mechanisms to cope with the demand for drinking water, food and medicines.
The release added that Tamil Nadu has sought the services of personnel from the Navy and Coast Guard to handle “a large number of fishing boats” that it had deployed. The state government has also sought more motorised boats, which were being sent by the Centre, it stated.
The NCMC meeting was attended by officials from the home ministry, National Disaster Management Authority, defence, health and family welfare, power, drinking water and sanitation, urban development, railways, civil aviation, telecommunication, information and broadcasting ministries and IMD. The chief secretary and relief commissioner of Tamil Nadu participated through video-conferencing.
During the meeting, power supply, road, train and air connectivity were also reviewed. While power installations have not suffered major damage, power supply to some areas in Chennai have been discontinued as a precautionary measure.
The railways and civil aviation ministries were asked to coordinate with the state government for safe and quick evacuation of stranded passengers, and the telecom department was asked to repair damaged telecom towers urgently.
With the IMD forecasting that rains may continue along the South Indian coast for three-four days, departments and ministries related to emergency response have been instructed to be in a state of total readiness and in constant touch with the state government for any assistance required.
[With PTI inputs]