Around 5,000 locals are stranded near Chennai’s IT Corridor for the last two weeks as a three-kilometre stretch remains flooded after two cyclones – Cyclone Buveri and Cyclone Nivar – left a trail of damage in Tamil Nadu. A few communities have now hired trucks to help these people in Thalambur and Semmancheri.
Barani, an IT professional, had a knee surgery recently. But he has to hop onto one of these trucks to get to work. The upscale gated society – where he lives- has arranged ladders for people like him to climb on to the trucks so they can commute.
As NDTV joined him on his commute, Barani told NDTV, “I am scared if I’ve to undergo another surgery. It’s so difficult… not just for work but even to buy groceries. Water is knee-deep now… often it raises to waist deep.”
From the top of the truck, the area looks like a vast sea as the vehicles try to make their way through the waves.
Heavy rains that pounded the city over the last two weeks due to two cyclones – Cyclone Buveri and Cyclone Nivar – inundated a 3 km stretch, flooded homes and submerged cars and bikes.
With lakes in the area overflowing and no storm water drains, the problems of the residents have now aggravated. More than five thousand people are affected.
Prabhakaran, another IT professional and a local, is angry about the massive inundation that has become an annual issue. His area comes under Chengalpattu district. He says, “We pay so much tax. Everyone has Aadhar, voter ID. We only ask for basic amenities as citizens. It’s hard to believe that this is the reality of the IT Corridor.”
The Sadhasivams, a young couple, need to take their four-month-old baby for an important medical test. But they don’t know how to go. S Gauri, the young mother, says, “We can’t climb on a truck with a baby. We don’t know what to do. We are seeking help from authorities to drain this water.”
Citing how residents there have invested crores, her husband Sadasivam says: “This will be a key poll issue in the 2021 assembly elections.”
At Semmenchery, a kilometre away which comes under Greater Chennai Corporation, Lakshmi and Kousalya – both domestic helps – wade through waist-deep waters for 6 km everyday.
Lakshmi says: “We swim for three hours to get a packet of milk. Not a single official has come to check on us, to see if we are alive.”
Kousalya adds: “We ask the government to fix this alone. Rest we will take care. Only if we work we can feed our family.”
Muthu, an auto driver, can no way bring home his vehicle. He said, “Poisonous snakes here can kill any one in five minutes. All we ask the government is do something to drain this water.”
As NDTV entered the interiors, scores of men and women sat helplessly drenched with no dry surface to rest their feet. These areas were earlier lakes, now layouts have been approved after systematic encroachment. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, many say, grants approval without providing basic amenities including drinking water, storm water drains and underground sewage.