#ChennaiFloods – Coordination is the need of the hour

2.10 pm At Jamin Pallavaram. 

Krishnan, my uncle and I went out at about 8 am to help with the local relief efforts. The apartment complex where my aunt stays have organised cooked meals and have been reaching it to families stranded in the Anakaputhur area for the past four days. I helped with cutting vegetables and Krishnan helped sorting out the medicines that got collected. Then we helped sorting out the dry rations and masalas that have been collected as well. 

Since we have electricity here, we have been connected to our friends network here in Chennai and Whatsapp has been a great medium to communicate with each other. 

One thing that is absolutely clear is the relief efforts are being made by the civic authorities, citizen groups, NDRF and the armed forces but there is no central coordinating agency. Why can’t NDRF play the role of coordinator of the relief efforts ? Everyone is well meaning and genuinely wants to help but there is excess food in one area and no food elsewhere. The local group who had gone out to distribute the food yesterday from this residential complex had the experience of not having food for a group of children while many grownup men took three helpings. We also have heard stories of young boys giving up their food for their younger siblings. Women folk need nighties or Sarees and a whole lot of churidars have been collected which they refuse to wear. These instances clearly show the need for coordinated efforts, nothing else. 

There is the secondary disaster waiting to happen – disease breakout due to water stagnating and contaminated water. The common man is unaware of what needs to be done – yes there are advisories, but really, there is no power and showing these advisories on TV is helping those who need no help ! 

I just spoke to a friend and he told me in a Federal structure the central Govt cannot interfere – ok, why aren’t there different rules during a disaster ? The state government of TamilNadu will fawn over Miss Jayalalitha and ensure her posters are on stuck on all the relief material – it’s a different disaster called sycophancy and many other things that don’t matter here. The rest of the political parties are no different – an ex-cabinet minister goes in a boat three days after disaster strikes and speaks to “his” TV channel and talks of milk being sold for ₹.150 to 200…. In Pallikaranai milk became available only on Dec 4th and it was available for ₹60 and then an hour later for ₹40 and in some Govt agency for ₹25. So I wonder which place this learned ex-cabinet minister got his data from. 

Urgent appeal to all well meaning citizens of India and the PMO – we need a central coordinating agency in Chennai to monitor the relief work and I think it should be the NDRF – if a minister from the ruling state Govt has to be the leader for these efforts so be it, but the actual work has to be done by an agency like NDRF. This is urgent if we have to avoid more deaths – figuring out who takes the blame can happen when sunny days are here again. #Chennaifloods 

It is raining on and off through the day so far … 

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