Chennai picks up the pieces in sunlight, ordinary heroes shine

  • K V Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Dec 07, 2015 20:43 IST
People reach out to collect relief materials being distributed in Chennai. The worst flooding in a century in Tamil Nadu has left scores of people dead since November. (AP)

Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday announced a slew of measures for the flood-hit people of the state even as tales of heroism and tragedy emerged from the receding water level in worst-hit Chennai.

With the sun shining brightly, the government scrambled nearly 25,000 sanitary workers to clear garbage accumulated over the past several days while relief work gathered pace.

The coastal regions of the state including Cuddalore, however, braced for more agony with the met department predicting heavy rains in the next two days.

For the first time since the second spell of rain brought havoc to Chennai and neighboring districts of Cuddalore, Tiruvalllur and Kancheepuram, Jayalalithaa issued a statement urging the people to remain calm and let the government do its job of relief and rehabilitation.

The statement was apparently aimed at growing criticism of laxity in providing relief to lakhs of people, especially in capital Chennai which was battered by the heaviest rainfall in a century last week.

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During the day, leader of the opposition DMK MK Stalin visited few areas ravaged by floods and lambasted the chief minister for her government’s alleged failure in providing prompt relief.

“Where is the CM?” he questioned while interacting with affected people at the posh T Nagar and West Mambalam localities that suffered flooding for the first time in recorded history.

Facing stringent media criticism, the government rushed a convoy of relief material to SIDCO Nagar, one of the worst affected areas in Chennai, only to find that NGOs and some individuals had already delivered food and bottles of mineral water.

Residents seeking relief material from volunteers at Kotturpuram, a flooded colony in southern Chennai on Monday. (PTI)

“This is a gigantic task and I surely empathise with (the) people who have lost everything and relief has not reached them. But we are doing everything that is humanly possible,” said Chennai commissioner Vikram Kapoor.

In contrast, three ministers visited the chief minister’s constituency RK Nagar, for the second time in as many days, to oversee relief operations. In other areas, AIADMK workers also began to make themselves visible amidst a growing army of NGOs and even activists of an RSS-affiliated organisation.

All over Chennai, there were gut-wrenching tales of human suffering.

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If patients died in a private hospital as power was shut down, relatives of those dead have been forced to spent time with the bodies as they are marooned as well as burial grounds are under water.

There was also the heart-warming story of a woman delivering twins after being air-lifted from her flooded house in Chennai.

Chennai airport also began normal operations on Monday, airport sources said. The Chennai central station and Egmore station, the two railway stations of Chennai have become operational again after a gap of a week. Long distance trains have started, but with delayed schedules.

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