The recent floods in Chennai due to incessant rain caused by the cyclone Michaung could have damaged cargo worth nearly ₹1,000 crore (estimate under process) at various container freight stations (CFS) and warehouses in North Chennai - a major industrial zone with two ports. According to multiple sources, the CFSs in North Chennai were badly affected due to flooding caused by water from Kosasthalaiyar River that entered these storage areas.

Empty containers were seen floating in Kosasthalaiyar in North Chennai with videos of a floating container going viral. “First river container service launched in Chennai,” jokingly said an official of a leading CFS. The 136-km Kosasthalaiyar originates near Pallipattu in Thiruvallur district and drains into the Bay of Bengal.

⁠The problem started on December 4 morning with power cuts in Katupalli and Ennore, affecting operations at the two ports. For the next four 4 days, the Kosasthaliyar flooded all the CFSs, and operations were stopped. Eight CFSs were fully flooded up to 5 ft of water. 6. ⁠All roads at Ennore Expressway were flooded and damaged.

⁠All equipment in all the CFS and empty container yard was under water damaged. Around ⁠1,000 transport trailers were underwater for a week and are being slowly restored. For a week all the exports from the container terminals were shut down. Many empty containers were floating in the river water and empty container depots submerged under water.

Container floating in Ennore creek

The Chennai port was partially operational in four days, evacuation of containers was badly affected due to flooding enroute to the CFS and empty yards, said sources.

“We need a permanent solution to the flooding problem. While losing cargo is a major issue, the other bigger issue is losing credibility among global customers,” said an official of a large CFS.

Every monsoon witnesses suspension of work at the various CFS especially those situated on the Thiruvottiyur–Ponneri–Pancheti Road road due to inundation. Flooding of the premises, unnavigable roads and loss of e-connectivity add to the trade

The incessant rain pounded Chennai affected normal lives for more than a week. Many areas were inaccessible for nearly four days due to water stagnation. Some of the buildings and apartments in places like Velachery and Sholinganallur were surrounded by waters on all the four sides, and boats were used to evacuate many people.

On the industry side, many units, especially belonging to the TVS group, in Padi were badly damaged and will take a few days for normalcy to restore. It was a similar situation in some of the IT companies.

Port and all container terminals were shut down for six days due to heavy rain and power breakdown. Due to this, all export and import vessels and cargo got delayed and incurred heavy detention and storage charges for trade, said sources.