Sunday, July 14, 2024

Day one of monsoon brings Delhi to its knees, traffic snarls add to chaos


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Cab driver killed, six injured after portion of roof collapses at Delhi airport’s T-1

NEW DELHI, June 28: The monsoon arrived in Delhi on Friday, raining devastation on a city ill-prepared for a three-hour downpour that led to the roof of Delhi airport’s Terminal-1 collapsing, killing one person and suspending flight operations, and inundated many parts of the capital.
The early morning rain, which brought India’s national capital to its knees, claimed at least one more life with a 39-year-old man electrocuted in Rohini area. Besides, three labourers were trapped when an under construction wall in Vasant Vihar collapsed early morning. Rescue operations continued till evening, their hopes of survival dimming with each passing minute.
Delhiites woke up to rain soaked morning with water entering homes, submerging vehicles and leading to miles-long traffic snarls that took hours to detangle. Thousands of commuters were stranded, many not making it to office or crucial appointments set up days earlier.
Key tunnels, including the one at Pragati Maidan, were closed and reports of homes being flooded came in from across the city, including upscale areas of Lutyens Delhi, Hauz Khas, South Extension and Mayur Vihar on the first day of heavy rain.
The Safdarjung Observatory, the city’s primary weather station, recorded 228.1 mm of rainfall in the 24 hours ending at 8.30 am on Friday, more than three times the June rainfall average of 74.1 mm and the highest for the month in 88 years — since 1936. At the airport’s busy Terminal 1, the rain destruction took a tragic turn. Around 5 am, the massive canopy covering the departure area gave way, trapping several people. Besides the roof sheet, support beams collapsed, pinning down parked cars.
A taxi driver, identified as Ramesh Kumar, was rescued from a car on which an iron beam had fallen but was declared dead when he was taken to the Medanta Hospital facility near the terminal. The injured were admitted to the hospital “. flights to & from Terminal 1 have been closed till further notice. Alternate arrangements are being made for the smooth operation of the flights,” the Civil Aviation ministry said in a post on X.
Delhi airport operator DIAL, which set up a technical committee to probe the roof collapse, said in a statement, “While the cause for the collapse is being assessed, the primary cause seems to be the continued heavy rainfall over the past few hours.” T1 has only domestic flight operations by IndiGo and SpiceJet. The airport — which has three terminals T1, T2 and T3 — handles around 1,400 flight movements daily.
An IndiGo spokesperson said the unplanned situation has led to operations across the network being impacted.
In a post on X, SpiceJet said flights were cancelled as T1 will remain partially closed for operations until further notice. The Delhi government called an emergency meeting in the afternoon to take stock of the situation. “It was after 1936 that Delhi received 228 mm of rainfall in 24 hours. It means, out of total monsoon rainfall (800 mm) in Delhi, 25 per cent rain occurred in just 24 hours. Due to this reason drain overflow happened in several areas and it took time for the water to drain out,” said AAP minister Atishi.
Chairing an emergency meeting, Lt Governor V K Saxena also took stock of the situation and directed officials to set up an emergency control room and deploy static pumps to address waterlogging reports.
Saxena noted that the de-silting of drains had not been completed and the Flood Control Order was yet to be issued. He asked officials to undertake the de-silting work on an emergent basis over the next week, the LG’s office said.In many residential areas, locals were seen wading through waist-deep water. Among them were MPs Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, both posting videos on X of flooding outside their homes in tony Lutyens Delhi while they were on their way to Parliament.
“.Woke up to find my entire home under a foot of water – every room. Carpets and furniture, indeed anything on the ground, ruined. Apparently the storm water drains in the neighbourhood are all clogged so the water had no place to go,” Tharoor wrote.
In another post a short while later, he said he was amazed and impressed that the tweet elicited, within minutes, a phone call from the LG.
“Shri VK Saxena was courteous & responsive and explained the constraints on effective action arising from the division of responsibilities between Union and State Governments,” he added Tewari posted a video of walking out his home in ankle deep water, his trousers hitched up.
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, was seen being carried to his car in a widely circulated video.Many thousands of others also bore the brunt of the season’s first rainfall, days after a punishing, unprecedented heatwave.
Govt orders inspection of structural strength of all airports
The civil aviation ministry on Friday ordered a thorough inspection of the structural strength of all airports in the country, following the roof collapse incident at the Delhi airport that left one dead and at least six persons injured.
Following the incident that happened at around 5 am on Friday at Terminal 1, the operations at the terminal have been suspended and the flights that are to operate from there have been shifted to T2 and T3.
At a review meeting convened by Civil Aviation Minister K Rammohan Naidu, it was also decided that a 24×7 war room will be set up for efficient management of passengers at T2 and T3. Structural engineers from IIT Delhi have been asked to immediately assess the incident at the Delhi airport. (PTI)


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