rain maker

Cyclone Nada brings rainfall to Tamil Nadu, reviving hopes for good crop and memories of flood

National Disaster Response Force teams have been deployed as precaution against cyclonic damage.

Residents of Tamil Nadu are watching Cyclone Nada as it makes its way towards the state’s coastline with a mixture of relief and apprehension.

After a disappointing monsoon, steady rain doused parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, as the cyclone made its way across the Bay of Bengal on Thursday. Overcast skies, cool breeze and the showers have lifted the hopes of farmers, who bore the brunt of the inadequate rainfall in November. The cyclone is expected to land between Vedaranniyam, a town on the state’s coast, and the union territory of Puducherry early on Friday, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

However, the deluge in Chennai and other parts of the state in December last year, which killed nearly 300, is still fresh in the minds of residents, who are hoping that the state administration and municipal body will be better prepared this year to handle heavy rainfall.

By Thursday afternoon, reports said the cyclone had weakened to a “deep depression”, though private forecaster Skymet Weather has said that Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai and its surrounding areas will continue to experience heavy showers as the cyclonic system moves northwest.

Preparing for the worst

Tamil Nadu receives the bulk of its rainfall during the retreating North East monsoon, which arrived in the state after a week’s delay on October 31. However, the monsoon failed to bring much-needed respite to the state, recording an over 80% deficit and the state is facing a water crisis. The neighbouring Union territory of Puducherry has not had better luck – seeing an 84% deficit in rainfall.

While the showers could help reverse the declining lake levels in the state, private weather forecaster AccuWeather has predicted the possibility of heavy flooding across a large parts of southern India through the weekend. But S Balachandran, Director of Area Cyclone Warning Centre in Chennai, told The Hindu, “While there will be fairly widespread rains till Friday in most parts of coastal Tamil Nadu, there may not be torrential downpour like last year.”

Tamil Nadu’s School Education Department had announced holidays for schools in six districts across the state on Thursday and Friday. Schools are also shut in Puducherry for these two days. Fishermen have been warned not to venture out into the sea, as the water is expected to be rough along and off the coast.

Tamil Nadu authorities told the media that necessary precautionary measures have been taken. According to reports, teams from the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the coastal districts as a precautionary measure, while the Western Naval Command said it is on alert.

Disaster prevention measures have also been stepped up near the coastal village of Kille in Cuddalore district, where the cyclone is expected to land. “The revenue department has been giving us regular updates about the weather,” said Neethi Mani, one of the leaders of the fisherfolk in Kille.

But Mani said that although the lives of the fisherfolk were not in danger, the same cannot be said about their livelihoods. The fishermen fear that strong winds will tear apart their boats and sweep away their fishing nets.

“This region is hit by a cyclone almost once in every year,” said Neethi Mani. “Cyclone Thane destroyed all the fishing equipment, for which we fisherfolk invest over Rs 5 lakh totally. These cyclones take away our year-long savings in one day.” Cyclone Thane hit the coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on December 31 last year, killing at least 33.

Will it be enough?

South Indian farmers are heavily dependent on the North East monsoon for water for irrigation. According to the Met department, Tamil Nadu receives 48% of its annual rainfall in this period, while Kerala and Karnataka receive about 20%.

The farmers thus have welcomed the rainfall with relief.

However, some are sceptical about whether this will make up for the shortfall in November. “It did not rain at all in November, said K Shanmugan, a farmer from Chinnaippet village of Kanchipuram district. “Only yesterday, it began to drizzle a little. If it continues to rain this way, our lakes will never fill up.”

Credit: India Meteorological Department
Credit: India Meteorological Department

Shanmugam said that the farmers of this region usually irrigate their crops through the excess water discharged from overflowing lakes. This is sent to the villages through a series of channels. “Those who can afford pump sets sowed their crop earlier this season,” said Shanmugam. “Many others were waiting for signs of rain to even begin sowing.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

When building your home, it is important to use strong and durable materials. A value-added premium product with high compressive strength, Birla Gold cement is used to make tough, impermeable concrete that sets quickly, lasts long and minimises cracking. Its durability will ensure that your dream home always looks new and the steel structure inside remains protected. Birla Gold offers variants that are optimised for different needs. The unique hydraulic binding properties of the Birla Gold Premium cement variant prevent seepage, making it resistant to even corrosive water, especially important for houses in coastal cities. The Birla Gold Royal cement variant provides very high strength and is perfect for the foundation. As the video below says, with the different varieties of cement that Birla Gold offers, you can build the home of your dreams.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.