Companies pitch in to help flooded Chennai citizens

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 02, 2015 20:58 IST
A car is submerged amidst water-logged houses in a rain-hit area of Chennai on November 17, 2015. (AFP Photo)

Several companies including start-ups have pitched in with contributions ranging from free calls to free rides for flood-hit Chennai residents amid an extensive rescue and relief operation being run by the government and defence personnel.

Telecom majors like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Vodafone are offering free talktime and mobile data in the city.

Airtel announced that prepaid customers will get talktime worth up to Rs 30 with an automatic approval from the company, as well as free credit of 10 minutes on Airtel-to-Airtel calling. Prepaid customers will also get 50 MB of mobile data free with a validity of two days.

Postpaid clients will get more time to make payments and will experience uninterrupted services.

Reliance Communications is giving away 10 minutes of free talktime to any network across India apart from 50 MB of free mobile data for prepaid customers. RCom is also allowing free charge of Rs 10. Vodafone is offering 100 MB of mobile data free.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said state-run BSNL would not charge its customers anything for a week. If monthly bills are not paid, there won’t be disconnection until further orders.

Small businesses too are doing their bit by pooling in resources and relief measures for those affected by the inundation.

Deepinder Goyal, CEO of food delivery app Zomato, announced “Meal for flood relief” wherein for every meal purchased Zomato will buy the same quantity of food for the flood victims. “15,000 meals bought by our users for #Chennai. Zomato adds to it to make it 30,000. Let’s all help get to 100k - we can do this,” Goyal tweeted.

Healthcare discovery platform Practo has released a list of verified doctors who can lend their services to those affected through a Google spreadsheet, while taxi-hailing service OlaCabs is working closely with the fire department to help people stranded.

Last week, Ola began sending out OlaBoats in different directions when the city received heavy rainfall. Apart from rescuing people, the company was seen ferrying food and water to trapped residents free of charge.

Oyo Rooms too has responded to requests from trapped residents and is offering special discounts at various OYO hotels in the city.

Rooms start from Rs 799 and can be availed on single, double, and triple-sharing basis. Stayzilla, an online aggregator of budget and home stays, launched a campaign to list homes where people displaced by rain can seek shelter.

The country’s largest mobile wallet Paytm is offering free instant recharges of Rs 30 for friends of users stuck in Chennai.

Services marketplace UrbanClap isn’t far behind and has organised free pest control camps at three different locations to help thwart the spread of dengue, malaria and chikungunya.

Tata AIG has issued a toll-free 24x7 helpline to reach out to and assist customers in Chennai, putting together a team dedicated to address all claim intimations at the earliest.

The Old Madras Baking Company is offering free food and water at all its stores in the city.

The site is now the epicentre of crowdsourcing all kinds of information: requests for rescue, shelter, food and volunteers.

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