Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium located behind Chennai Central station has been the state government’s control room for relief work after floods devastated the city. On Monday, the venue had over 1,000 citizens who had come forward to help dozens of senior government officers engaged in segregating relief items and packing them in parcels. These volunteers comprised youth, housewives, school and college students.
They joined hands to ready the relief parcels containing milk, biscuits, drinking water, noodles, milk powder and chocolate.
Outside the stadium, 30-odd lorries waited to despatch the parcels to relief camps.
Among the citizens was 47-year-old Annadurai, who owns a small engineering firm. He said that he had seen an announcement on a Tamil TV channel, asking volunteers to join the relief work and decided to join in. He was accompanied by his 15-year old son Karthick.
On Monday, CM Jayalalithaa announced a flood relief of Rs 10,000, 10 kg of rice, a sari and a dhoti for those who lost their huts in the floods. People who live in permanent houses that were affected will receive Rs 5,000, 10 kg of rice, a sari and a dhoti. Those who lost their livestock in the flood will also receive compensation — Rs 10,000 for loss of cows and buffaloes, Rs 3,000 for goats and pigs and Rs 100 for chicken.
As for farmers, the state will pay Rs 13,500 per hectare if 33 per cent or more paddy crops were lost. Rs 18,000 per hectare will be paid for long-term crops. The CM said that 13,80,461 people had been housed in 5,554 flood relief camps set up in Chennai, Cuddalore, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts.
However, hundreds of people who took shelters in marriage halls, theatres and private warehouses are being forced to move out. “Wherever such cases were reported, we intervened and ensured that they are allowed to stay for a few more days before we can shift them to state-run camps,” said a senior revenue official.
The government is yet to come out with official figures pertaining to the calamity. The death toll due to the floods, as per media reports, has climbed to 296.
Meanwhile, hundreds of missing cases have been reported in the 97-odd relief camps run by the government. Relief workers alone have reported at least 500 missing cases. “Who would trace them? Who will tell us even if their bodies are found later?” said B Murugan, who lives beside the Saidapet slum, which was washed away in the calamity.
Relief materials are being dispatched from hundreds of centres in the city. Private firms, organisations and individuals have all joined in. However, the disconnect between the government and independent volunteers continues to hamper relief work.
A number of burglaries are being reported from inundated localities. The city’s health officials have not reported any major health issue other than injuries, viral fever and skin ailments.