The damage to Chennai

The huge, incessant rains in Chennai and surrounding areas have caused huge damage to Chennai city and to its reputation as a place which works with business efficiency and with a better transport logistics compared to Bangalore (now known as Bengaluru).

It is the first time in my memory that the rains in Chennai last week have become a global topic of discussion – even as remotely as France, when the French Foreign Minister issued a statement in support of Chennaites who are suffering big damages. The U.S. offered support to India to alleviate the problems caused by the floods in Chennia.

Some of the pictures and videos of Chennai rains and floods are unbelievable. Never have I seen anything like this in all my life. There could be many reasons, but the most prevalent response from experts and critics alike is the El Nino weather patterns, which have been causing environmental weather damages all across the world. Some people said that the torrential rains are due to unexpected cloud bursts. Whichever way you look at it, getting one month worth of rains in just 3 hours is way too much for the poor citizens of Chennai. I understand that this is the biggest rain ever in a hundred years in Chennai !

The social media like Twitter and WhatsApp played a big role in communicating the nature of the disaster, and directing help to deserving folks who were stuck in the middle of the floods. These invaluable tools continue to perform yeoman service to people in Chennai, and there are fantastic souls going around the city in waist deep water, trying to render assistance based on emergency calls. The true nature of human beings came out over these past few days in Chennai. Everyone tried to pitch in, and many people opened up their “safe” apartments or houses to complete strangers irrespective of caste, religion, creed, or colour. That was an absolute delight to learn, especially when one is in a farawy land. It was amazing to know that people help each other in calamities like this, and this is exactly what would create social cohesion and not division and intolerance.

I was surprised that there was no activities in Singapore to collect donations and contribute to the people of Chennai to reduce their pains. Government efforts are of course forthcoming, but these are never adequate. People like us have to contribute to save poor people from hunger and distress. As is the usual case, the prices of milk and vegetables have skyrocketed, as profiteers exist in every chaotic situation trying to make huge profits from people who desperately need the goods that these profiteers offer. I hope that the Government of the day acts against these profiteers and make daily goods available at regular prices.

The very poor infrastructure of Chennai has now been exposed, and the Government should not lose any time in rectifying these defects. My guess is that it will take not less than a year for the Government to fix all the infrastructural problems in Chennai, by which time the next big rains will come. There is just no time to lose, and there is also no time for politicking and wasting time. Get on with the real work at least this time, with the help of the Central Government. Let us create a better Chennai which can withstand future attacks by rains.


Vijay Srinivasan

5th December 2015


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