Rains batter Hyderabad’s world class image, leave nine dead

August 9th, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, Aug 9 (IANS) Heavy overnight rains have killed nine people in Hyderabad and battered the image of this IT hub, turning roads into cesspools, inundating dozens of residential areas and creating utter chaos. Civic infrastructure seems to have collapsed under the downpour that began Friday night in the Andhra Pradesh capital. Normal life has been paralysed as transport services gave come to a standstill. All educational institutions declared a holiday Saturday.

Nine people were killed and 10 others were injured in four different incidents of house collapse. People spent a sleepless night as it rained cats and dogs. Several areas plunged into darkness as trees were uprooted and electricity and communication lines snapped.

The cloud burst Friday night led to seven centimetres of rainfall in one hour. The city received 13.6 cm rainfall for 24 hours ending Saturday morning. Officials said this was equal to one-third of the average annual rainfall - and more rains are expected.

More than 30 areas were under water, affecting around 20,000 people. Overflowing open drains, sewers and manholes added to the chaos.

Citizens said the deluge proved hollow any talk of world-class infrastructure being built in the city. “The infrastructure can’t cope with even five cm of rainfall,” said Sridhar Reddy, a citizen.

Three to four feet-deep water on the main roads in the heart of the city brought traffic to a grinding halt. With the city lacking a proper drainage system, water gushed into houses in low-lying areas.

Water-logging in residential areas, including Makta Madar opposite Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the governor, damaged several houses.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy took serious note of waterlogging in several areas, including in the road in front of his official residence in Begumpet neighbourhood.

He ordered the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to cancel the leaves of all officials for the next two days as the weather office has forecast more rains.

Hyderabad collector Navin Mittal admitted that the city’s infrastructure was not adequate to cope with such a heavy rainfall. “Efforts are being made to augment the infrastructure,” he said.

Encroachments next to open drains led to the inundation of low-lying areas.

This is the second time in recent years that the city has been battered by heavy rains. Heavy rainfall in the year 2000 had caused widespread devastation, killing 30 people.

The existing city infrastructure was designed seven decades ago for a population of two million. Since then its population has increased to seven million.

Last year, the city was merged with the adjoining areas to create Greater Hyderabad. The move increased the city area from 175 sq km to 725 sq km, making it the second largest city after Delhi.

An outer ring road is under construction as dozens of mega townships are coming up along this 160 km road. More than 30 Special Economic Zones (SEZs), mostly in the IT sector, are also coming up on the city outskirts.

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