Chennai’s next big challenge is cleaning up the muck from the streets

  • KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Dec 07, 2015 23:53 IST
A woman walks in an alley filled with mud and debris to collect relief goods in Chennai. The city’s next big challenge is to clean up the muck left by the floodwaters to prevent an outbreak of diseases. (REUTERS Photo)

Chennai and its suburbs braced to meet the mounting challenge of preventing outbreak of diseases with the deluge leaving heaps of muck on the streets even as relief work gathered pace under a bright sun in the flood-ravaged metropolis on Monday.

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.

Though flood water has receded from arterial roads in the capital, most of the low-lying areas continue to be flooded with sewage as drains were chocked with plastic, mattresses and sundry material.

Authorities scrambled nearly 25,000 sanitary workers to clear the stinking garbage accumulated over the past several days to prevent outbreak of diseases.

The health ministry said there was no report of outbreak of any water-borne or vector-borne disease till now.

Truck loads of garbage were removed and conservancy staff was seen clearing the pavements as bleaching powder was liberally sprinkled.

With respite from downpour and bright sunshine, the city appeared on course to normalcy.

However, educational institutions in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallore will remain closed for two more days following weatherman’s forecast of more rain.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said power supply has been restored in 95 per cent of the areas in Chennai barring those that are still submerged.

The chief minister, facing a barrage of criticism for alleged inaction, on Monday announced a slew of measures for the flood-hit people of the state in a statement.

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.

The Tambaram area in South Chennai was littered with debris after the floodwater receded. (HT Photo)

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.

“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.

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 director Deepak Shastri said the facility became fully functional this morning. “The airport is functioning one hundred per cent,” he 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.

(With Agency inputs)

Read More:

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Chennai limps back to normal, anger grows at lack of relief

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