Chennai is marooned. The torrential downpour and consequent flooding of the city and its suburbs must be seen to be believed. The situation is bad, if not worse, in other parts of Tamil Nadu as well. The rains — the heaviest in 100 years — have been particularly severe in the last two days; life in Chennai is completely paralysed, with all roads flooded, mobile and landline phone networks down, no electricity (power supply has been cut as a precautionary measure), no transport in some places and the threat of flooding looming large over many areas. And, the forecast is, if anything, grim. Close to 200 people have lost their lives across the State. Over 3,000 people, including 1,500 passengers, were stranded at the Chennai airport, which has been closed after the runaway went under the water. Faced with a disaster of this magnitude, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has acted swiftly, directing ministers to visit the affected regions and seeking the help of the armed forces for relief and rescue work. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and spoke to the Chief Minister, assuring all possible help.
The armed forces, by taking up the task in right earnest, have instilled a sense of security and confidence among the people. While the Centre’s cooperation is welcome and indeed laudable, it should also consider declaring the flood situation in Tamil Nadu a national calamity. The State government had sought `8,480 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund following the earlier phase of the rains. Now, the estimated loss to the State will be much higher. While calculating the exact damage could take time, it is obvious that Tamil Nadu had not experienced anything like this in living memory — Tuesday’s rainfall was an all-time record for Chennai in December.
Those pointing fingers at the government, citing Chennai’s infrastructure must realise this is a once in a century battering the city is receiving at the hands of nature and this is no time for blame game. Adversity brings out the best in man and social media users, Good Samaritans on the streets, policemen and the government, are doing exactly what should be done: trying to weather this through.