Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Rains wreak havoc in Hyderabad; 20 dead, more problems feared

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Hyderabad: The city woke up to a trail of destruction on Wednesday morning,  after heavy downpours, which citizens haven’t seen in years, lacerated localities all across Hyderabad. The resulting floods left over 20 persons dead, apart from several homes getting washed away due to heavy currents and roofs collapsing in various. 

Apart from the house collapse in Bandlaguda, which was a major incident wherein eight people died, the wall of a house collapsed in Alwal due to the floods, while the earth beneath a building literally gave away at Kondapur because of the heavy showers. Water-logging and traffic is the least of peoples’ concerns this time, given that the torrential rains have put lives at risk. 

The ground under a building caved in at Kondapur. Photo: Tarun Oblum

In the meantime, the Water Board in Hyderabad lifted all 13 of the Himayat Sagar’s gates. Hundreds of people who had built illegal homes on river beds of the Musi river were evacuated to safety by the state government. On Wednesday, water from the Musi river was also overflowing, probably for the first time in 20 years, after the Himayat Sagar’s gates were lifted. The Musi, which has been turned into a cesspool and sewer, has in fact become sort of a spectacle as the gushing water started washing away the tons of filth.  

It seemed like a minor Doomsday for the people of Hyderabad from Tuesday evening until early morning on Wednesday, as incessant rains threw normal life out of gear. With two-wheelers submerged, cars floating, roads broken, trees and electric poles uprooted and people getting washed away it was nothing short of an apocalypse scene.

A house damaged by torrential rains at Lothkunta. Photo: Dr. Mrudula Tunga

According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Hyderabad received between 19 and 20 centimetre rainfall on Tuesday, which is nearly eight inches. During the September 28-19 floods in 1908, Hyderabad, in comparison, had received between 12 to 18.9 inches of rainfall.

Hayathnagar in fact received a staggering 30 cms of rain, which is about 11 inches. One could say that perhaps this may have been the second most destructive flood after 1908. 

Hyderabad and several other parts of Telangana received heavy rain under the impact of a deep depression which originated in the Bay of Bengal, according to the IMD.

As splashes of rain continue to batter the city, several areas were landlocked with complaints of severe water-logging and drainage overflowing. Asifa (name changed) and her mother, who are residents of Tolichowki, had to in fact leave their house and booked a stay at an Oyo room at Banjara Hills. “Last time, my car had floated away, so we shifted before things got out of hands with our documents,” she told siasat.com

Other citizens who did have luxury of booking hotels had to see their homes and valuables getting washed away, especially squatters who had built homes on the riverbeds of the Musi river. In fact, the situation was so severe that a lorry had tipped over near Hayatnagar under the Rachakonda Police limits.

Even until the time of writing this report in the late afternoon on Wednesday, power had not been restored in several areas. Many localities plunged into complete darkness from Tuesday evening for multiple hours. With the state government issuing a Work From Home advisory for two days, frequent power cuts are adding to the existing woes. 

The state government has declared October 14 and 15 as holidays in the GHMC areas to ease the situation. Apart from public areas, videos of Yashoda Hospital at Somajiguda getting flooded were also doing rounds. Clearly, nature has a way of not sparing anyone. On its part, the GHMC and other state government officials have been out busy rescuing people and fixing things. 

Almost all areas under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have received excess rainfall this monsoon season with the Charminar zone at the top, with a deviation of 105% from normal. Areas like Rajendranagar received 99% excess rainfall, followed by Asifnagar (98%) and Saroornagar at 94%.

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