From free calls to free rides: Companies help Chennai flood victims

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 03, 2015 12:08 IST
A number of companies, including start-ups, are doing their bit to help flood-hit Chennai residents by offering free calls, rides and food. (PTI Photo)

A number of companies, including start-ups, are doing their bit to help flood-hit Chennai residents by offering free calls, rides and food in addition to the extensive rescue and relief operation being run by the government.

Telecom majors like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Communications 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.

Vodafone is offering 100 MB of mobile data free and has given its postpaid clients more time to make payments with uninterrupted services.

Reliance is giving away 10 minutes of free talktime to any network across India as well as 50 MB of free mobile data for prepaid customers. It is also allowing free charge of Rs 10.

Union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said state-run BSNL will not charge its customers anything for a week. If monthly bills are not paid, there won’t be any disconnection of services 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 the company will buy the same quantity of food for the flood victims.

Healthcare discovery platform Practo has released a list of verified doctors who can lend their services to those affected through a Google spreadsheet.

Taxi-hailing service OlaCabs is working closely with the fire department to help people who are stranded. Last week, Ola began sending out OlaBoats in different directions when the city received heavy rainfall. Apart from rescuing people, the company was also seen ferrying food and water to trapped residents free of charge.

Hotel aggregator Oyo Rooms too has responded to requests from trapped residents and is offering special discounts at various Oyo hotels in the city. Room tariffs start from Rs 799 and can be availed on single, double, and triple-sharing basis.

Stayzilla, an online aggregator of budget and home stays, has launched a campaign to list homes where people displaced by the rains 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 is not 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.

A Google spreadsheet is being widely circulated on both Twitter and Facebook with address and contact details and profiles of people willing to provide accommodation to those who are stranded.

On people can post their contact details, number of people, type of emergency and other details, which will then be forwarded to concerned authorities. There is also a volunteer form where people can enlist to help by picking up stranded people, providing shelter, food, etc.

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