Will Chennai’s Rain-Induced Woes Ever End?
Vehicles move through a waterlogged road during heavy rain in Chennai. 
Vehicles move through a waterlogged road during heavy rain in Chennai. (Photo: PTI)

Will Chennai’s Rain-Induced Woes Ever End?

The skies opened up for the third consecutive year making its presence known and felt in South India.

Coming to Chennai, it’s time we brand it ‘Venice of Asia’ and make it one of the leading tourist attractions in India this time of the year, with waterways connecting every part of the city. There is so much potential to make profit this season. Clearly, we have no intention to or have failed to act in order to mitigate the damage caused by the north-east monsoons.

Nature has destroyed Chennai twice in a row and has made its intention abundantly clear with regards to completing a hat-trick.

While Chennai’s humanity was the saving grace, the governance was of no help at all.

What has Changed?

Jayalalithaa who was the one-woman army of the ruling party AIADMK was an able administrator who cared for the welfare of the poor and women. 
Jayalalithaa who was the one-woman army of the ruling party AIADMK was an able administrator who cared for the welfare of the poor and women. 
(Photo: Reuters)

Tamil Nadu has lost out on able leadership. In fact, I would say it has lost two major leadership figures at around the same time, Jayalalithaa –the one-woman army of AIADMK – and DMK Chief Karunanidhi.

While Jayalalithaa was an able administrator who cared for the welfare of the poor and women, the government is now in shambles in trying to figure out ‘Who is going to sit on the CM throne next?’, following her demise. As for the opposition party DMK, MK Stalin or his siblings are no match to the Chief Karunanidhi who is ailing and unable to perform.

The state is now running on auto pilot and all action that has been taken is more reactionary in nature.

To make matters worse, the local body elections has been long overdue. There is no local-level leadership to handle the issue on the ground either. Court had to interfere and order the election to be held by 17 November 2017. The state election commission’s response is that the elections cannot be announced till February 2018. Whether the issue is merely logistical or political as well is anyone’s guess.

The bottom line is, for Chennai, status quo does not change.

What Has Not Changed?

For the third consecutive year, people continue to suffer from the lack of access to basic needs in flood-stricken areas, spread of water-borne diseases, adequate treatment for dengue and potholes on the roads that are deteriorating with every spell of rain.

Government’s help is the last to reach. The roadways have turned into waterways. All the buildings that were built and those that are being built on the lakes continue to block the natural flow of water. The factories continue to block water outlets Coovum or Kosasthalayar rivers with their incessant and incremental dumping.

On the plus side, Chennai has still retained its soul. People are still the first to reach out to help each other. They have retained their fighting spirit. Twitter, Facebook and radio channels are going all out to connect people to those in need of help. WhatsApp and YouTube are as abundant as ever with warnings from NASA that Chennai is going to go underwater forever.

What Has to Change?

Local body elections has to be conducted and the elected representatives should be held accountable. The civic body needs to start working on flood mitigation for 2018 a year ahead. Dumping in the three rivers in Chennai has to be stopped with stringent action taken on any and all violators.

The government needs to be proactive instead of being reactive.

Nature does what it does. It is up to the humans to make good of what nature gives us.

If this is how we are going to welcome 2018’s north-east monsoon, we can get ready to sing the new Chennai Anthem Water, water, everywhere in the rainy season and not a drop to drink in the subsequent summer, assuming there is a Chennai left.

(Anand Balasubramanian is an IT professional. This is a personal blog and the opinions expressed above are the author’s own. You can follow the author on Twitter @absaysthis . The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

Also Read:
Chennai Rains: Boats on Roads, Buses Under Water, It’s That Bad
Chennai Rains: Schools Shut as Monsoon Spell Intensifies

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