One dead as India’s IT capital Bengaluru devastated by ‘worst rainfall for more than four decades’

Firefighters rescue the residents of the flooded areas following overnight heavy rainfall in Bangalore, India  (EPA)
Firefighters rescue the residents of the flooded areas following overnight heavy rainfall in Bangalore, India (EPA)

Hundreds of houses remained submerged on Tuesday in southern India’s Silicon Valley Bengaluru, which recorded the second highest single-day rainfall in five decades over the weekend and the highest in at least 42 years.

A woman died of electrocution after her scooter fell in knee-high water and she came in contact with an electrical pole in northern Karnataka’s Siddapura.

Some parts of Bengaluru received 150 per cent more rains than normal between 1 September and 5 September, state chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday.

"This was the highest rainfall in the last 42 years. All the 164 tanks in Bengaluru are filled to the brim," he said.

Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural — the two zones into which the city is divided — have seen 141 per cent and 114 per cent excess rainfall respectively, officials said.

On Monday night, authorities recorded 131.6mm (5.2 inches) of rain, making it the wettest September day in the last eight years.

Authorities roped in earthmovers, tractors, and inflatable boats to rescue locals trapped in parts of the city as the water flooded residential areas and localities, sparking concerns of poor planning and administerial mismanagement.

The heavy downpour, which picked up pace over the weekend, has brought the Indian IT capital to a grinding halt as massive traffic jams due to flooded roads stopped people from reaching office.

Locals in the city took to social media to share photos and videos of the impact from the downpour as water filled the luxury villas and as well as the slums.

The crucial arterial road circuit which serves as the city’s perimeter  — the Outer Ring Road and Sarjapur road — turned into a lake, prohibiting human movement and forcing the IT firms in the region to ask their workers to switch to remote working and avoid stepping out.

Visuals showed bikers forcing their two-wheelers out of the water in the tech hub as many other vehicles remained partially inundated in the murky rainwater.

Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport also confirmed that the flights departing from the airport are likely to be delayed on Tuesday amid the weather conditions and heavy rains. A video shot outside the arrival gate of the airport showed the vicinity inundated with water as travellers waited in the rain.

Prominent residential areas like Sai Layout near KR Puram to parts of Whitefield, Bellandur, Yemlur, Varthur and Sarjapur road, Rainbow Drive layout, Sunny Brooks Layout, Marathahalli also witnessed flooding and road blockages on Tuesday.

Private schools across the city shut their premises and declared holidays, while many switched to online classes for a few days as roads remained choked with water and heavy traffic.

Local reports added that the travel time in the city has spiked by 30 per cent amid the traffic snarls due to water-logging. Some of the residential areas will also not receive water in the largest Indian state as water overflowing from the lakes entered the pumphouse facility, officials said.

It will take two days to drain out water from the state’s Cauvery 3rd stage pump house and to resume work, Mr Bommai said, adding that the municipal body will supply water to the areas where the supply has been disrupted due to the rains.

Residents have slammed the city authorities for poor city planning and unregulated spike in structures in the last three decades, trampling over lakes, wetlands and valleys with concrete structures.

“The level at which Bangalore has rapidly urbanised from the 1980s to 2000s is accelerated. Several big tech parks have mushroomed in the city in the 2000s and the city has seen an unregulated expansion over the past few years,” said Bengaluru-based journalist Sharan Poovanna.

“Development has not panned out well for this city which has 500 years of history which carried a proper map for valleys, lakes and irrigated lands. The water knew how to find its course here. Now, suddenly to see all of this being taken away from the city — the results are exactly what one could expect,” he told The Independent.

The federal weather body has warned that the coastal state will witness a deluge till 9 September. Officials have issued yellow alerts for Tuesday and Thursday — third highest alert level of the total four — for Bengaluru urban and rural districts, alerting people of similar downpour.