‘Leeches, centipedes floating in my house… power cuts’: No respite as North Chennai remains waterlogged

Chennai Rains: People are living out of fear of sewage-mixed rainwater that could make them vulnerable to various diseases including dengue. Most have also run out of food supplies.

It has been four days of relentless suffering and pain for Amulu, a 35-year-old daily-wage worker and her son. Rain water mixed with sewage has entered her hut at Perambur Barracks road in North Chennai, making it difficult for her to find even a place to sleep.

“Besides the stench, there are leeches and centipedes floating all over my house. There is no place to eat or sleep. We have nowhere to go. Like others, I haven’t gone to work in a week now, and I have no money left to buy food,” Amulu said.

Following incessant rains in Chennai and across Tamil Nadu over the last four days due to the northeast monsoon, most parts in the northern parts of the capital, including Perambur Barracks Road, Pattalam, adjoining Pulianthope, Perambur, are the worst-hit. The stagnant water has not receded and has entered many houses, forcing residents to live on streets. Some residents are leaving out of fear of sewage-mixed rainwater that could make them vulnerable to various diseases including dengue. Most have also run out of food supplies.


According to reports, close to 35,000-40,000 residents at Thiru Vi Ka Nagar (Zone 6) have been affected due to heavy waterlogging. The area is in knee-deep waters, making commuting very difficult. Two-wheeler riders were seen pushing their bikes through sheets of water after their vehicles broke down.

Amulu said none of the corporation officials have visited their area and provided relief measures. “No one from the corporation or any other party have come to help us. We have no one to go to. We are helpless,” she said, adding that some of them are getting food from a nearby church.

Since November 6, Chennai and its neighboring districts Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu, Karaikal, Tiruvallur have been witnessing heavy downpours. Accoridng to the latest announcement from the Meteorological Department, the well-marked low-pressure area over Bay of Bengal concentrated into a depression, which is likely to cross the coast by November 11 evening. The weather system is likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Karaikal and Sriharikota, close to the north of Puducherry same evening.

‘Power yet to resume’

The heavy rains have led to prolonged power cuts over the last four days across the city.

Chandrasekhar, a resident of KM Garden and an employee at a finance company who has been working from home since the pandemic started, said there has been no electricity supply since 4:30 pm on Sunday.

“We have had no power over the last four days and I have a 9-5 job. My laptop can’t stand the charge the entire day, so after six hours of work, I go to my wife’s family’s place to charge my laptop. But how long can I do this? The power will not resume unless the water dries out,” he said.

Venkatesh, a corporation worker from the same area, said that as soon as water entered his house, he moved to his brother’s house with his family. “For the last four days, we have been staying there. Today, I came here to check if water has receded or not, as yesterday there was less rain. Unfortunately, the water level at my house remains almost the same as earlier. Many of the household items have been washed away.”

Venkatesh said he could barely walk in waterlogged streets. He said the houses on the ground floor were the most affected, and all the electrical appliances have been damaged. “It is very risky to walk in these streets as there are so many electricity wires around.”

While a few residents have moved out of the area, most have either shifted to the upper floors of their own or their neighbors’ house.

Shanmugam, a wooden factory owner, who resides in Angalamman Kovil street, in Pattalam, closed his nearby factory after water entered the units.“For now, we have kept our machines at a higher level. But, if the rains continue and water levels rise further, our machines are likely to get damaged,” he said.

At Govindapuram and Thatankulam streets, where the water level has risen to neck level and power supply has also snapped, residents were spotted leaving their houses with bags in a hurry. Many of them said they had been surviving only on bread.

Devaraj, who runs a small grocery store in the area, said he tried to go out every day to buy essentials and sell them to the residents. “It is extremely hard to go buy groceries. I push my cycle against the water with lots of difficulties.”

‘No help from authorities’

Chief Minister MK Stalin recently visited the Perambur Barracks road and assured to take steps, however, residents claimed nothing much has been done to drain the rainwater or provide essentials to them.

“In all the other areas, water levels have decreased and the corporation is doing something. In our area, no measure has been taken yet,” he said.

Residents said water-logging is a perennial problem in this locality as they recalled the horrors of the 2015 floods where hundreds lost their lives and livelihoods.

“Every year, even if it rains overnight, water gets stagnant. Despite pointing this out to the authorities, no action has been taken” Chandrasekhar said.

‘Bowl-shaped terrain making it difficult to drain water’

The Greater Chennai Corporation said they are making efforts to address these concerns. On Monday, GCC Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said the civic body has allocated Rs 4 crore for relief measures. Bedi said he has directed the zonal authorities to carry out relief measures including buying JCBs, poke lanes and hiring additional motor pumps.

The Chennai Corporation, in a release, said they have stationed boats in 41 sensitive areas for rescue work. Fishermen have also been deployed. However, residents of Pattalam claimed fishermen are charging Rs 200-250 from the residents for rescue work.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Joint Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board, M Pradeep Kumar, who has been appointed by the state government to monitor relief measures in Zone 6, said they have deputed 48 motors in and around Zone 6 (Thiru-Vi-Ka-Nagar) to pump out the water. He said since the Pattalam area terrain is a bowl-shaped one, the water has not receded.

“We have placed 48 motors in and around zone 6. Every day we are distributing 18,000 food packets and conducting health camps in 10 relief centres. We have operated 15 mobile medical camps and also carried out fogging and inspection of inundated areas to check spread of diseases like dengue. In the relief centres, 389 people are currently accommodated. We have also deputed additional 288 high-power motors.”

Pradeep Kumar said the water in Kolathur is draining out slowly, but Jawahar Nagar and Pulianthope remain heavily inundated. “The problem with the Pulianthope area is that only a natural drain is possible. It is a bowl-shaped terrain. It has to be drained to the Gandhi Nagar canal where the water level has come down since morning. Hopefully, if there is not much rain in the upcoming hours, it will be drained out maximum by tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon,” he added.

A 24×7 control room is set up at the Rippon Building in Chennai. Officials from the police department, electricity, water supply, fire and rescue personnel, public works department are regularly monitoring the issues.

Contact these numbers released by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) for flood-related grievances redressal: 04425619206, 04425619207, 04425619208. Additional Whatsapp numbers: 9445477205, 9445025818, 9445025820, 9445025821.

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