Tamil Nadu rains: Six dead, over 1,500 displaced as Nilgiris reels under flood

Shivani Ramakrishnan
Heavy rainfall in Nilgiris district on August 8 led to flooding of neighbouring hill station, Ooty. Express Photo.

Over 1,500 people displaced, hundreds of acres of agricultural land damaged, six dead this is the amount of loss which has been incurred in Avalanche, a small town in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district so far, following torrential downpour in the region since August 8.

According to the Weather Channel, the region recorded 2500 mm of rainfall in four days, the highest that has ever been recorded in Nilgiris district until today. According to private weather blogger Tamil Nadu Weatherman, Avalanche had recorded 820 mm of rainfall in just 24 hours, the highest by any region in Tamil Nadu.

As of August 9, the region had recorded 911 mm of rainfall, which is almost twice the amount of rainfall that is received by the region every year.

Heavy rainfall in Avalanche led to flooding in the neighbouring hill station of Ooty, prompting the government to launch precautionary measures and rescue efforts in a bid to prevent loss of life. Several political parties in Tamil Nadu, led by their leaders swung into action to help the people who had been displaced by the floods by providing them with relief material and medical aid.

Incessant rainfall in the region had claimed six lives and left over eight people injured at last count, due to avalanches, building collapses and rising water levels, even as large swathes of agricultural land and roads in the region were damaged due to flooding. Thousands of houses in the region were inundated due to the deluge, trapping people inside and flooding rivers across Nilgiris.

Amid a war of words between the AIADMK and DMK over flood relief work and allegations by the DMK that the Tamil Nadu government had not handled the floods in Nilgiris efficiently, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) announced on Tuesday that the AIADMK-led government had taken adequate measures to mobilise the people of Avalanche and help keep them safe while mitigating the crisis.

Houses in the region were inundated following heavy rainfall in Avalanche. Express Photo.

DMK leader M K Stalin had accused the government of undertaking relief work in the region without seriousness and blamed the AIADMK government for not mitigating the damage by putting preventive measures in place. He added that the State government should declare Nilgiris a ‘natural disaster-prone district’.

In response to Stalin’s accusations, OPS announced that the government had constructed temporary camps for over 1500 people who had been displaced by the floods, along with medical teams to help prevent the outbreak of diseases in the relief shelters. Additionally, 21 teams comprising National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel had been pressed into service in the district to help evacuate residents and transport them to relief centres.

Meanwhile, Stalin announced a contribution of Rs. 10 crore towards relief work in Nilgiris after visiting the district over the weekend, a move which Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) termed as a publicity gimmick while OPS accused Stalin of politicising relief work in Nilgiris.

DMK president M K Stalin visited residents of Nilgiris who had been displaced due to the floods. Express Photo.

After agricultural lands were damaged in the downpour, OPS announced that the farmers in Nilgiris will be given compensation by the Tamil Nadu government and pegged relief work in the region to be approximately Rs. 200 crore. Additionally, temporary housing facilities will be provided to families whose houses were damaged during the rainfall, with permanent houses expected to follow in a few months.

With relief work in the region being supervised by OPS and Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar, EPS announced that the AIADMK government will request for Centre’s assistance after assessing the situation in Nilgiris in the aftermath of the floods.