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Chennai gets break from rain, but water release from lakes floods new areas

The city got a break from three days of rain, but an excessive discharge of water Wednesday night from the Chembarambakkam Lake on its outskirts has flooded new areas in the city and threatens to displace even more people from their homes.

Though there has been no rain since Wednesday night there's been fresh flooding on the streets in the heart of the city in areas like Kodambakkam, T Nagar and Ashok Nagar because of the release of an estimated 30,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, one of the city's sources of drinking water.

The reservoir has been overflowing because of heavy inflow due to rain in the catchment area.

People in the city are worried about the forecast of showers over the next three days.

Milk and other essentials like vegetables are already in short supply. A half-litre packet of milk is being sold at Rs 50 in many areas. Diesel and petrol are in short supply and there are long queues of motorists at the few petrol pumps that are still functioning.

Over 50,000 people have been rescued from flooded homes in various areas and lodged in relief centres opened by the Chennai Corporation.

Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army, Navy and commandos of police and fire service personnel were deployed on Wednesday for rescue and relief work in the worst-affected areas of Kotturpuram, Jafferkhanpet and Nandanam.

The Air Force and Army are said to be rushing in with supplies for the people in distress.NDRF Director General O P Singh said the force will intensify its operations in the affected areas from today as more of its men are being deployed on the ground.

He said over a 100 boats, 22 divers, 445 life jackets and 328 buoys have been pressed into service by the force and more such rescue items are being dispatched.

The force has already tasked two DIG rank officers and a Commandant in Chennai to oversee operations in the affected areas.

A Navy official involved in the rescue efforts said that most of the places are flooded and lot of efforts are going on both on the ground and by air.

"An aircraft is going to evict people stranded at the civil airport. So we are going to establish an air bridge between Meenambakam civil airport at Chennai and Arakkonam. So that maximum people will be transferred to Arakkonam. And thereafter they will be thrown out," the official said.

The Airports Authority of India had late last night announced that Chennai airport will remain shut until December 6 as there are predictions of more rains.

The death toll due to these heavy downpours over the last two weeks has gone up to 197, officials said.

All modes of transport--air, road and rail services-- have been hit due, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the airport and various rail terminals.

Adding to the worry of the citizens and administration, the weatherman has forecast more rainfall under the influence of a trough of low pressure and upper air circulation over the southwest Bay of Bengal and the Sri Lankan coast. After that, Tamil Nadu can expect an anti-cyclone activity which will be associated with "heavy rains" at some places.