Anyone active on social media would not have missed the visuals from Pallikaranai in Chennai—high-end cars parked inside a posh apartment complex being washed off in Chennai floods caused by cyclone Michaung. Three days later, the 3,000 families living in the apartment complex are in complete distress. “There was no help from anyone despite several calls. We were safe till the wall behind our apartment was washed away in the flood. We recorded a video and called the government authorities for help. But no one helps us,” said Prakash, one of the residents in the apartment complex.
Years ago, when he moved to his brand new, posh apartment constructed by the leading real estate firm Puravankara in Pallikaranai, Prakash would not have thought in the wildest of his dreams that a natural disaster would push his family into extreme distress. It has been a nightmare for the past three days for Prakash and his family. Employed in one of the MNCs in Chennai as its top management staff, Prakash had been struggling to get back to normal life after cyclone Michaung brought incessant rains to Chennai and its suburbs. “This morning we all came out together to ensure that the water is drained. We walked out, wading through the water to buy the essentials for our people. The government was of no help despite several calls,” Prakash told The Week.
The Puravankara apartment in Pallikaranai is just one of the several localities where people in distress have been calling for help. Cars submerged in water, people walking with their bags in knee and waist-deep water on the main roads in the city suburbs, and people being rescued in boats have become common sight in Chennai. The supply of essentials, food, water, and milk has been hugely affected across the city. From the most active IT corridor to suburban areas like Velachery, Pallikaranai, Perungudi, Tambaram, and Medavakkam in South Chennai and areas like Vyasarpadi in North Chennai most parts of the city are still submerged.
Industrial estates under water
While the authorities and the state machinery are prioritising rescuing the people in the suburbs and other parts of Chennai, the capital city’s industrial estates are in deep distress. Michaung has dealt a severe blow to the factory operations of MSMEs in and around Chennai. The industrial estates at Ambattur, Thirumudivakkam, Perungudi, Thirumazhisai and Kakkalur are still submerged in four to six feet of water. While in some of the estates, stagnant water has been pumped out, the roads leading to the estates and the surrounding areas are still under water. Of all the estates, Thirumazhisai is the most affected. There are at least 900 units in and around the Thirumazhisai industrial estate. The Ambattur Industrial estate, one of the oldest in Chennai, is estimated to have lost around Rs 2,000 crore due to the cyclone and flooding. Though water has receded at Kakkalur estate, it hasn’t got back to work as power is yet to be restored. Perungudi industrial estate is still under water, while Guindy is slowly limping back to normalcy. “It seems we haven’t learnt any lessons from 2015,” said K.E. Raghunathan, national president, Association of Indian Entrepreneurs. The small industry owners estimate that the loss could be close to Rs.2500 crore.
Incidentally, Tamil Nadu will be hosting its Global Investors Meet in January 2024, which is just a month away. With a natural calamity taking away the might of Chennai’s industrial estates, it remains to be seen how the government will be able to convince the international investors looking to set shop in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
On the other side, the entire IT corridor has also been flooded with most of the IT and ITES companies finding it difficult to connect to the network for the past two days. “There is no connectivity. How can we work from home,” asked an IT employee who is working in one of the leading software firms in Chennai.
“How do you expect me to work when there is four feet water in my house” asked Aparna Ramalingam. Living in an interior locality in Velachery, Aparna had to wade through hip-deep water with her three-year-old daughter to reach the main road. “I am not sure if I will be able to continue with my job immediately. It will take at least a month for me to get back to normal life,” Aparna told The Week.
CM Stalin writes to Modi
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin sought Rs 5,060 crore to rebuild the damaged infrastructure and for relief work. According to an official release, Stalin requested the Union government to dispatch a central team to assess the damages caused by cyclone Michaung. The official release also added that a survey is underway to assess the total damage and a detailed report will be prepared soon. Listing out the damages caused by “unprecedented” rains in the northern districts of Chennai, Chengalpet, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram, Stalin pointed out that “the damage is severe in areas under the Corporation of Chennai. Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and public buildings have suffered severe damage.”