Chess Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand has become the latest celebrity to help rain-battered Chennai get on its feet by opening the doors of his house for the flood-affected people from the slums near his house in RA Puram.
“Since it was difficult to leave Akhil (Anand’s son) and elderly father-in-law at home and venture out to offer relief and assistance, we chose to open our doors for the affected. Following the first floods, we had close to 20 people, including two pregnant women, from the neighbouring slums staying over at our place,” Aruna, Anand’s wife, was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
According to the newspaper, Anand - who is away for the London Chess Classic - may also announce a monetary contribution for the relief fund.
“My maid, who lost her home and all her belongings, too came over along with her extended family and stayed with us. Food was cooked in large amounts for all those at home as well as handed over to volunteers for distribution,” Aruna added.
The family’s ground floor house was largely unaffected by the torrential rains and the floods that followed.
Before Anand’s gesture, India’s star badminton player Saina Nehwal and top squash player Dipika Pallikal have also announced their help. They have said they will donate Rs 2 lakh each to help people affected by the worst rains to hit Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Film personalities from across the country have also pitched in by donating money and organising relief material.
Megastar Rajinikanth, who turns 64 on Saturday, has requested his fans not to celebrate his birthday but help those affected by the situation caused by heavy rains in Tamil Nadu.
“As Tamil Nadu is limping back to normalcy after being struck by the worst rains in over a century, Rajinikanth has requested his fans to join hands and help the rain-ravaged people in relief work,” a source close to the actor told IANS.
The actor has also given Rs 10 lakh to help those affected by the rains.
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has reportedly contributed a sum of Rs 1 crore to the chief minister’s public relief fund to help the victims of Chennai floods.
The Telugu film industry, which has its roots in Chennai, has also come together to help the flooded city and its stranded people. Top Tollywood stars have pledged large sums of money and are appealing people to help and also channelling their own efforts.
Actors Allu Arjun and Mahesh Babu have contributed Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively and Baahubali actor Rana Daggubati has launched a campaign called ‘Mana Madras Kosam’. Daggubati’s family-owned Ramanaidu Studios has become the drop point for relief essentials which are being packed and trucked to the city.
The initiative is also being supported by a host of Bollywood actors like Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Kalki Koechlin, Boman Irani and Abhishek Bachchan, according to Mid Day.
Nani, Allari Naresh, Junior NTR, Kalyanram, Ravi Teja, Varun Tej, Sampoornesh Babu, Sai Dharam Tej, Sundeep Kishan are some of the other actors who have come together to help the people of Tamil Nadu.
Rang de Basanti star Siddharth too has been working round the clock arranging food and drinking water for the affected people and Singam star Suriya has chipped in with Rs 25 lakh.
Chennai is slowly limping back to normalcy with officials speeding up relief work and deployed armies of sanitation workers, trying to take advantage of the abundant sunshine and remove the piles of garbage and sewage gathered on roads.
The city is struggling to counter the threat of diseases with low-lying areas inundated with stagnant water. Many Chennai residents have started returning home as water recedes across the city but educational institutions will be closed until Wednesday.
Authorities have closed schools and colleges in 12 Tamil Nadu districts after rain was forecast in the state’s coastal areas.
(With agency inputs)