Severe cyclonic storm Nivar will intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm over the next 12 hours and cross the coast between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Wednesday midnight or early Thursday, the India Meteorological Department said.
It will make its landfall between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry by midnight or early hours of tomorrow, said the IMD.
In anticipation, sluice gates of the Chembarambakkam reservoir, one of the key drinking water sources to Chennai, were opened on Wednesday noon to release 1,000 cusecs of water into the Adyar river. Hundreds of people living along the river are being moved to relief camps. Chennai's arterial roads and neighbourhoods were severely inundated with heavy rain continuing on Wednesday. Commuters waded through knee deep water and water entered several homes in low lying areas.
Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami extended the public holiday to Thursday in 13 districts, including Chennai, after he inspected the Chembarambakkam reservoir which is about 30 km from Chennai in the adjoining Kancheepuram district. Sudden release of huge quantities of water from Chembarambakkam into the Adyar river had resulted in the deviating floods in 2015 in Chennai and adjoining districts.
"People need not panic or be in fear, Palaniswami said after his inspection. "Chembaramakkam's capacity is 24 feet and as of now water level is at 21.5 feet. We will release water in a controlled manner. Adyar river has the capacity to carry 60,000 cusecs. Government is taking all precautions. There is water-logging in 30 localities in Chennai and the city corporation is draining it," said Palaniswami.
The ministry of Jal Shakti on Wednesday informed the state that Chembarambakkam reservoir in Adyar basin will receive 150-200 mm from 6am Wednesday for the next 24 hours with an average inflow of 200 cumecs, warning of a "flood type situation in the river".
Cyclone Nivar is gaining in strength and approaching the state, it is roughly 190 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 250 km south-southeast of Chennai. At the time of the cyclone crossing, wind speeds will be 130-145 kmph gusting to 155 in Puducherry, Cuddalore, Mayiladudurai, Karaikal, Villupuram and Chengalpet, said S Balachandran, director, regional meteorological centre (RMC), Chennai.
In Chennai and adjoining districts, wind speed is forecast to be 80-90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph, he added.
The NDRF teams and first responders are involved in intense relief operations in other districts, including Cuddalore, Villupuram, Mayiladurai, Chengalpattu which are severely inundated. Some 24,166 people have been evacuated from 13 districts across Tamil Nadu, including 3,948 children, and shifted to 315 relief camps.
Both the AIADMK and DMK leaders and workers hit the ground in rescue work. Stalin, wearing rain gear, provided relief materials to families living in inundated areas such as Kolathur, Choolai and Villivakkam. The BJP temporarily cancelled its vetrivel yatra (victorious spear march) due to the cyclone.
Puducherry has imposed section 144. "We are already seeing waves as high as 6-feet" said the union territory's chief minister V Narayanasamy after inspecting coastal areas. "We are working in coordination with all departments to ensure people remain safe."
Several flights to and from Chennai have been cancelled and train services remain suspended in the cyclone-affected districts.