By V. Jagannathan
Chennai, Dec 5:
An intermittent light drizzle since Saturday morning added to worries of Chennai residents, battling the worst floods in a century, and now facing a shortage of drinking water and power while anger and despair about absence of relief is growing.
Meanwhile, transport links were being slowly restored, while a government statement said that 11.53 lakh people had been rescued and housed in 5,009 relief camps.
Unlike some areas such as Mylapore, Adyar and Annasalai where the water level has receded and electricity supply partially restored, people in many pockets in north Chennai continued to remain cut off.
“Rumors of surplus water being released are also a cause of serious worry,” Revathi Vasan, of West Mambalam, told IANS.
She said power supply has not been restored in her Janakiraman Street while there is water- logging around her apartment complex and on the roads.
“There is nothing much to say about our situation except that we are still living with our kind neighbours,” she said.
In the neighboring Kodambakkam area, residents were complaining of stagnant sewage water for the past several days which the civic authorities are not attending to.
“All we want is the removal of the block in the sewage line,” said a resident.
Several people complained of the absence of any relief.
“No official agency brought us any food or drinking water. Only the residents of neighbourhood brought us some biscuits, and drinking water,” an angry resident of MGR Nagar in Ramapuram in Thiruvallur was seen complaining to a local television channel.
In Korukkupet in north Chennai, a resident complained that nobody from the government or any political party visited her locality to offer relief.
In several localities, apartment owners pumped out stagnant water through hired pumps.
Fish carts and two-wheelers were used to transport patients to hospitals during the past three days, said a hospital official.
N. Sathyabhama, director of medical services and quality, southern region at Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., said the hospital received patients from several other hospitals affected by floods and power cuts.
“Some patients came by fish cart. One was brought by her brother on the bike as that was the only means of navigation through the heavily-flooded Greams Lane (where the hospital is located),” Sathyabhama told IANS.
She said there was no power supply for 57 hours in one block and 69 hours in another and the situation was managed with generators.
The government-run Royapettah Hospital and Sri Ramachandra Hospitals also got patients from the hospitals affected by floods and power cuts.
Meanwhile, a political spat was sparked over purported attempts by AIADMK members to paste stickers of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on relief material.
Criticising the move, PMK leader S. Ramadoss said: “The ruling party members are not interested in relief works but are interested in getting publicity.”
He said vehicles coming from outside to Chennai with relief materials are stopped at the border by ruling party members and let inside only after Jayalalithaa’s picture is stuck on the parcels.
Forest Minister M.S.M.Anandan however told reporters that stickers with Jayalalithaas’ image are stuck only on relief materials sent by the AIADMK and not on packs sent by other organisations.
Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam came down heavily on actor Kamal Hassan for wondering where the state government’s tax revenue is going in an interview on the Chennai floods, saying the actor is after cheap publicity.
“Was is after publicity that Kamal Hassan announced that he would donate Rs.12 lakh to all the families of the children affected by the fire accident in Kumbakonam? Can he tell whether he had provided the assistance and if yes, to whom did he give,” he asked.
Southern Railway on Saturday announced operation of a special train from Chennai Beach Station to Bengaluru, while the reverse journey will be undertaken on Sunday. Suburban train services between Chennai Egmore – Tambaram have also commenced.
The Indian Army chief, Gen. Dalbir Singh, also flew into the city to review the situation and oversee rescue efforts.
Chennai, and adjoining Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Cuddalore districts were battered by record rains for the past one month, leaving at least 325 people dead, several thousands in relief camps and millions affected due to lack of drinking water and power supply. (IANS)
(V. Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])