Rains, rage, rumour: 9 things that irked Chennaiites during floods
Chennaiites, battling to pick up pieces of their lives after an unprecedented deluge caused death and destruction, have seen everything from panic-mongering on WhatsApp to apathy of government officials in the past one month.
They were misguided by wrong information on social media and WhatsApp, angered when city’s liquor shops continued to run while essential services were not operating and left fuming after 14 patients allegedly died because of electrical failure at a hospital.
The people wrote scathing tweets, heckled senior ministers and sat on roads to register their anger. Here are nine things that irked the citizens of the Tamil Nadu capital:
1. Jayalaithaa stickers
The AIADMK party workers’ decision to stick photographs of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on relief material supplied to flood victims faced severe criticism.
2. No milk, abundant liquor supply
While people were deprived of essential commodities like milk and clean drinking water, a service that continued unaffected was of liquor supply.
According to The News Minute, liquor shops in Nungambakkam, Choolaimedu, Anna Nagar and Arumbakkam have been functioning from 11am to 10pm for the past week.
3. Lack of co-ordination
According to a report published in The Hindu, army rescue personnel were kept waiting by government officials as they failed to convey where to deliver the relief materials or where rescue operations were needed.
The officials allegedly failed to provide facilities for the army personnel to transport people they managed to rescue from inundated places.
4. Tragedy at MIOT hospital
A massive row broke out at MIOT hospitals amid reports that 14 patients died reportedly after heavy rain flooded the generator room and snapped oxygen supply to those on life support.
Angry relatives thronged the MIOT hospital, accusing officials of negligence and hiding the news for several hours, though the state government said the deaths were not caused by power outage and had occurred before December 3 while families failed to collect the bodies because of the floods.
5. Government apathy
Anger spread on the streets when senior ministers Natham Viswanathan, Sellur Raju and Gokul Indira visited RK Nagar, chief minister Jayalalithaa’s constituency, where people heckled them, forcing them to hastily leave.
Similar scenes were witnessed in other areas where people vented their anger at officials complaining of lack of help from authorities. A large group of residents surrounded a police patrol team on Friday night and demanded to know when water and electricity supplies would be back on.
The ministers and officials who were present at a press conference on Sunday, which was the first major briefing since the floods struck, read from long prepared statements, made even longer by the number of times the name of ‘Amma’ was invoked.
They refused to answer questions from journalists and staged a walkout.
6. Lake breach rumours
Social media websites were abuzz with rumours started by miscreants. Most of the rumours were about lakes which were ‘about to be breached’ and the panic-mongering continues till Monday. Verified social media accounts and local media have been tweeting constantly to dispel such rumours.
7. Crocodile rumour
News about crocodiles escaping from the Madras Crocodile Bank in Mamallapuram did the rounds on social media and WhatsApp, spreading fear among residents.
The crocodile bank later confirmed that this was a rumour.
8. Plea for reinstating IAS officer
Netizens rallied behind IAS officer Vijay Pingale, who was transferred in 2014, just three days after he named contractors who botched up road work in Chennai.
Support for him also poured out on Twitter and Facebook with netizens using the hashtag #RecallPingale to express their anger and resentment against the sudden transfer.
Netizens claimed that Pingale had warned about the floods in the past and would have handled the situation much better if he had not been transferred.
9. WhatsApp rumour about a Nasa report
A WhatsApp message asking people in Chennai to leave the city immediately as a Nasa report had predicted very heavy rain in the next 72 hours circulated among residents, spreading fear and panic. It claimed that the entire city would get submerged.
Here is the message
if any of your friends or relatives are living in Chennai ask them to leave Chennai immediately because in the next 72 hours very heavy rain is expected more than multiple level of the present rain. As per NASA Report this is not the ordinary rain. It’s name is EL Nino cyclone. There is a chance for 250 cm rain. Chances are there nearly the entire Chennai may be submerged in water. Search in Google, you will understand. Somehow inform of your friends and relatives in Chennai.
NASA has not issued such a report. A look at the latest press releases in the organisation’s website shows no such report.