A week of pounding from the Northeast monsoon subjected Tamil Nadu to a very stern test. That Chennai was quickly up on its feet after monster showers on Thursday night—highest in 41 years—showed its spirit of resilience. Over 1,000 corporation workers worked overnight amid pouring rain to de-clog storm water drains and pump out water from many inundated areas.
Possibly to take the sting out of the Opposition charges, ministers were assigned specific zones in Chennai to personally lead the mitigation efforts along with seasoned IAS officers. Their presence along with CM Edappadi K Palaniswami making spot visits and expediting relief work sent the message of an administration committed to addressing the challenges posed by the vagaries of nature.
That said, man-made problems did soil the government’s copybook to an extent. Like the electrocution of two little girls who unknowingly stepped into a puddle in contact with a naked wire dangling from a pillar box because of the callousness of electricity board officials. It led to a huge outrage and forced the government to immediately suspend eight employees pending investigation besides offering compensation. The Madras High Court then took suo motu cognizance of the tragedy and raised the compensation to Rs 10 lakh each.
Then there are the roads that break up after every shower. Quite a few of them no longer have potholes; they have craters. It boggles the mind that we can’t build all-weather roads, not even on highways. That Tamil Nadu has not reported any pothole death so far unlike Bengaluru is indeed a testament to the people’s driving skills, not the quality of the road network. Small tanks in Chennai’s suburbs are either full or close to that mark, so areas in their vicinity face the threat of inundation. Other coastal districts have faced heavier monsoon activity with around 60,000 hectares of crops submerged in Nagapattinam district alone. But this is just the beginning. The government machinery cannot relax till the monsoon is over.