As the worst seems to be finally over for Chennai, the city is limping back to normalcy following the floods that had brought it to a standstill earlier this week.
As the focus shifts from rescue operations to providing relief to victims of the floods, there are several issues that the government will need to focus on right away.
From providing them with food, potable water and accommodation to spreading awareness about the possible diseases which can stem from the floods, here is a list of eight things, compiled by social activist A Narayanan, which the government needs to look into immediately.
1. People are unable to urinate and defecate safely. Women, elderly and the disabled are not eating food and drinking water, thereby getting into a dehydrated condition, losing their immunity against diseases. This is a serious issue needing immediate attention and solution.
2. Chennai and its suburbs are surrounded by a large open septic tank, full of sewage and rotting garbage. Hence, in an innovative measure, the Government should try to spray bleaching powder through a military helicopter, similar to rain seeding / forest firefighting exercises. If initial trials are satisfactory, this can be expanded to a bigger scale, thereby reducing, if not preventing, breakout of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, etc.
3. The school education department should mobilise HMs and teachers of Government / Government aided / AD welfare schools for relief operations, especially for school children and arrange for their health and mid-day meals. The teachers will be in a better position than other officials in identifying and coordinating efforts in respective localities of their students and parents.
4. Social welfare department should make alternate arrangements to put in place make shift ICDS centres for vaccination, medical assistance and food for children under 6 years of age. The District Social Welfare officer should be empowered to take financial decisions to coordinate efforts through Anganwadi teachers, cooks and ayahs.
5. North Chennai, especially Korukupettai, Vyasarpadi and Kodungaiyur, are not getting enough assistance. People are living in filth. In Kodungaiyur especially, which has the biggest dump yard established in a lake, garbage is reportedly floating everywhere and the whole area is in enveloped in unbearable stench.
6. The new Secretariat building in Anna Salai built by the previous Government has only a small portion as the Super specialty hospital. Most other places are vacant and not in use. Government can convert this into a mega relief camp and easily provide all the basic amenities including medical relief and health checkup.
7. In Cuddalore and Chennai, allegations have cropped up that relief distributed by NGOs is being forcibly taken away by ruling party men. Government should take a firm step in this regard.
8. In all districts including Chennai, in order to prevent irregularities, corruption and sub-standard execution of relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation work, Government should come forward to constitute a monitoring and auditing committees consisting of experts, statutory auditors and civil society members for each of the districts. This will not only ensure quality, transparency, equity but also help to reduce the anger and dissatisfaction of the affected people against the Government.