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New Delhi
Tuesday 28 January 2020

Chennai flood relief in a mess

Chennai — Reports of horror keep pouring in from Chennai and other flood-ravaged parts of Tamil Nadu like Cuddalore, Bhuvanagiri, Nagapattinam, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram. The slush in and around houses remains knee-deep even as water is receding farther away from people’s homes and offices on the ground floors of buildings. In areas like Kodambakkam, sewage water has stayed stagnant for the past several days, which the civic authorities are not attending to.

The 5,554 relief camps are crowded with 1.38 million people, not all of whom used to live in slums; there are regular middle class residents of cities as well. Food, biscuits and drinking water are in ample supply but, as the submerged towns face an outbreak of communicable diseases, there is a near-total absence of hygiene kits and sanitary products. There is no such thing as waste management in the affected areas.

Another 18 patients died in a hospital yesterday as the power connection to it got snapped by flood waters. The family and kin of many natives of Tamil Nadu remain unreachable. Several parts of Chennai have yet to see resumption of electric supply.

A reporter has filed a story saying just one doctor is attending 400 odd families at the camp near the Chintadripet Railway Station. There is utter chaos in school and college premises that have opened up to shelter the dispossessed, as the goons among the refugees are taking recourse to muscle power to loot relief materials while the physically weak and intimidated inmates and relief workers cannot ensure law and order in these camps.

At this hour of crisis, the State government is hardly to be seen anywhere. It has been a week since a press conference was held to address the concerns of the flood-affected people. The Army and National Disaster Response Force personnel are complaining that they cannot help the locals in full measure as the Jayalalithaa government is unable to offer them the requisite logistical help. Even a State nodal agency to coordinate the relief work is conspicuous by its absence.

However, local politicians are leaving no stone unturned in claiming credit for the material being supplied by central agencies and despatched from INS Shakti and INS Sahyadri.

Featured image: NDRF volunteers distributing free milk packets to residents of Kotturpuram, one of the worst flood-hit localities in Chennai last Saturday [PTI Photo]

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