Sanitation workers were facing a mammoth task on Tuesday of cleaning up Chennai and neighbouring areas as mounds of muck and fetid pools of water sparked fears of disease in the aftermath of Tamil Nadu’s worst flooding in over a century.
Shops opened shutters in some areas that were limping back to normalcy though the weather office predicted heavy rains in the coastal parts of the state and its capital due to low pressure in the Bay of Bengal.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi toured the rain-battered parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and urged the state and central governments to be “more responsive” to the people’s plight.
“I want to tell the government of Tamil Nadu and the government of India that they need to do a lot more for the people of the state,” he said while also distributing relief materials. “They need to be much more responsive. The people of Tamil Nadu and Chennai are suffering. The state government and the national government need to respond to this and take action as fast as possible.”
Nearly 300 people have died across the southern state since it was hit by unprecedented rain on December 1 that left large sections of Chennai under up to eight feet of water, trapped people on rooftops with no communication and washed away thousands of houses as well as property worth crores.
Though the sun was shining bright for the second consecutive day, stagnant sewage water from choked drains was posing a major health hazard in areas like T Nagar, turning into breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.
The city’s municipal corporation said 10,000 tonnes of garbage has been removed over the past two days with nearly 30,000 personnel pressed into service.
Many Chennai residents have started returning to their homes as waters receded across the city but educational institutions will remain closed until Wednesday.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa announced the government will distribute 2,000 tonnes of bleaching power and one crore chlorine tablets to people in rain-hit parts of the state, including Chennai, to disinfect affected places and purify drinking water.
The northern district of Cuddalore, however, continued to be badly affected, with rescue teams being rushed there over fears of further damage.
(With agency inputs)