With an ongoing summit on Climate Change in Paris, the world is experiencing a whole new set of threats. Though these threats are not new, but they had not been so severe either. India witnessed a devastating disaster in its southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and in the union territory of Puducherry in the form of flood; Chennai being the worst affected.
Though two disasters should never be compared, but these floods in Chennai were way more disastrous than the Mumbai floods. The floods were different in the way the government tackled them and also in the way the people tackled them.
“Chennai received 1,049 mm (41.3 in) of rainfall in November, the highest since receiving 1,088 mm (42.8 in) in November 1918. The flooding in Chennai city was described as the worst in a century.” reported Wikipedia.
During the annual cyclone season of North East monsoon, a low pressure area was formed which converted into a depression intensifying further into a deep depression. This brought first set of torrential rains in Chennai and nearby and brought rains on 10th November.
Another depression developed in the area and this acted as the salt on the wound of already affected Chennai. This new system started its devastation on 30th November. The people of Chennai already reeling under the effect of the floods were unleashed upon by another severe crisis which was even more devastating.
More than 450 people have died in the three states and chances are that, these numbers would further swell up. An economic loss of more than 20,000 Crores is estimated.
The water from the city has still not receded and power supply is to be restored for more than 40% of the city. The commercial flights have not started yet, as the airport is still not clear of the flood waters. Though some trains have resumed services, but most of them still remain cancelled.
Chennai was officially declared a disaster area on the evening of 2 December. As of 5 December, nearly 300 people in Tamil Nadu were estimated to have died because of the flooding since 8 November, while over 11 lakh people had been rescued in Chennai alone.
People are fleeing the city to their family homes as away from the affected area as possible. The resumed trains that are leaving Chennai are running full house and even then a lot of people are stranded in the railway stations in and around Chennai.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa announced an ex-gratia of 4 Lakhs to the family of deceased. The central government also announced an ex-gratia of 2 Lakhs each to them. The Tamil Nadu government released 500 Crores for the relief work whereas the Central government released 939.63 Crores on 22 November and sanctioned another 1000 Crores on 3rd December.
Whatever has happened could not have been averted but the losses could surely have been minimised if there would have been proper planning and better drainage facilities in the city. Illegal construction in the recent past has overburdened the city. Had there been better city planning and immediate water discharge mechanisms, the situation could have been less grim.
A city is said to be for the people and people for the city but the current disaster showed another character of Chennai. Chennai moved ahead in this field to show that a city is for the people and people are for the city and also the people of the city are for each other in crisis.
The real constructive use of social media was practically shown in this flood. People irrespective of caste, creed or religion came forward on social media to render help and support to the more affected victims. Everyone shared even minor information one had to help save people in real need.
Chennaites opened their doors for all others in crisis. They posted on social networks their addresses and the facilities they could provide to the people in need. Everything was shared-house, food, internet and even cellphone chargers. Religious places were opened for all, be it temple, mosque or church.
The people who had the resources performed their social responsibilities with utmost care and compassion. It was reported that when a woman was given an extra food packet, she refused to accept and urged the volunteers to give it to those who had not received it yet. This responsible behaviour of Chennaites to help each other even when they already are in distress is commendable and it is this ethos and harmony, which an Indian society is made of.
The Bollywood has also a lot to learn from these floods apart from a scintillating script for their movies. The actors of southern film industry came forward to help and support the affected. Instead of just regretting the natural calamity, the actors like Rajnikant, Allu Arjun, Dhanush, Actor Vijay, Raghav Lawrence, Suriya, Ravi Teja, NT Rama Rao, Mahesh Babu and many more donated to their best possible and stood together with the people.
Sportstars Saina Nehwal and Mutthaiya Muralitharan also featured in the donors list. Some of them have promised more if the situation further deescalates.
The actors in Bollywood earn huge amount of wealth from their fans from all over the country. It is these fans that make an actor a superstar. When these fans are in trouble, none of them come out to help them, whereas the actors of the southern industry came forward with a lot of resources. Now we understand why the southern actors are given the status of Gods by their fans.
However, we got to be the optimists and look at the positives. The NDRF teams along with groups like RSS and others came out in full swing for the rescue work otherwise the situation would have worsened. A better coordination among the people in the society was witnessed where everyone came out to help everyone else.
None can complain the activeness of Central as well as State Government, who were active enough to mitigate the effects of the calamity. The humane nature of the Government also came out in view when the government freed calls from BSNL for a week and the banks were kept open on Sunday to help the people. The Air India slashed its ticket fare to 1000 rupees for Southern destinations from Chennai and to Rs 2000 for the rest of India when private airlines even charged a sum of about Rs 1 Lakhs till the airport operated.
It is for this support we choose a government that it would help in the time of distress humanely. The relief work would not have been easy if all the four wings of Indian Defence Forces would not have been so active. The Army, Navy, Air Force as well as the Coast Guards worked rigorously without a break to safeguard the people.
There are certain lessons too that are to be learnt. We have to fight the climate change with much more resolve in order to keep our mother nature healthy. Better city planning is required for the new cities and improvement in the current infrastructure of the cities should be our priority. We also need an enhanced alarming system that would make us ready to face the disaster and calamities before it strikes us. Hope we learn from these experiences and work on it to assure a better future for coming generations.