CHENNAI: A week after the heavy downpour, most areas in the the city are still inundated and several residents are forced to live as refugees. Areas in Valasaravakkam, which is in knee-deep in water, stink, as septic water mixed with rainwater has flooded Arcot Road. Schools in the area are inundated and many residents use boats. While residents pool in money to cook food, there is no electricity in the locality and many of the affluent have hired a generator.
“It costs Rs 5,000 for two hours of generating power. We use it to pump water into the Sintex tanks on the roof,” says Lawrence, a member of Majestic Colony Association.
“We are neither well-off nor downtrodden. The government should ensure that the stagnant water is cleared. It’s been more than a week and the situation is still pathetic. There are nearly 10,000 houses in the area which are inundated,” says Veena Ramakrishnan of Veerappan Nagar.
Although residents even staged dharnas, help is nowhere in sight. Veena said she would organise a dharna along with her neighbours and other affected people just to drain a week-old stagnant water. Shortage of food is not an issue. Many residents allege that the water stagnates due to encroachments, which have blocked the path for the water to recede.
Most of the neighbourhoods in Valasaravakkam and Alwarthirunagar are nearly empty. In some areas like Choudhary Nagar, the men stay at home while their families stay in guest houses. “They charge Rs 1,500 a day. We don’t have any option,” says a retired auditor from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office.
The areas that have been affected , include Bethania Nagar, Lambert Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Senthamizh Nagar, Velan Nagar, Anbu Nagar, Ramapuram, Chaudhary Nagar, Majestic Colony, Meenakshi Nagar, Thiru Nagar and Janaki Nagar.
Interestingly, despite the inundation, many people have begun reporting to work. Wading into water and hoping that the concerned officials would act on their pleas to clear the inundated streets, they head to work. But there is no respite.
“We hope officials are kind enough to ensure the water is removed,” said a resident. The situation is grim and if it rains again, Valasaravakkam could be paralysed. “It doesn’t look like the issue will be resolved soon,” says Saptarishi, an advocate.
The inundation has choked Arcot Road, where traffic moves at a snail’s pace. The street near Vembulli Amman Koil is pathetic as people wade through chest-deep water. Gautami, a TV actor, blames the situation on the failure to clean the storm water drains. But most others blame the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority for being lax in town planning.