CHENNAI: It has been two weeks since the flood but for some areas in Chennai, their woes do not seem to have ended. Homes still have a stench with a coat of slush. Muddied gas stoves, school bags and clothes lie in heaps, and others forms of sanitation issues have left the residents of the slum at Brick Kiln Road (Ward 75), along Otteri Canal, in a shambles.
They allege that no steps have been taken to clean the area and they are separated from a waterbody of waste by a wall that's just four feet tall. With the increasing mosquito menace, accumulation of filth and the accompanying problems, the residents hope that the government would provide them aid.
“Some of our neighbouring localities have received aid — money, bedding, cooking oil, sarees, etc. But our area, as always, was ignored though we are right beside the canal,” says 50-year-old Latha.
During the flood, the compound wall beside the road was breached, and filth poured in and flooded the houses. “We spent five days at a community hall in Purasawakkam,” says Sumathi, a young resident of the area, and mother of a toddler. “The kids keep getting rashes and skin problems. We are very scared. We spend extra money to buy water cans to make sure that the water we use is clean. Yet I have had to take my son to many doctors.”
Waste from poultry shops, butchers and markets are dumped into this canal. This garbage settles along the compound wall, causing sanitation problems. “I have a blind son, and a blind grandchild. There are snakes in this area; please help us,” weeps 69-year-old Marutham, sitting outside her house, where sewage water gently seeps in from the canal inlet.
The residents are desperate for help in any form — fogging, cleaning with bleaching powder, medical aid, or money. “We just want some support. We see people doing work around the city, but our locality is often overlooked and it is very difficult especially for senior citizens here,” says Latha, who works at a nearby hotel.
The councillor of Ward 75, Santhanakrishnan B, said regular fogging was being carried out in the ward and the issues would be taken care of. “Any case of oversight will be addressed,” he said. “Sanitation hazard of the area will be looked into immediately.”