Two weeks after heavy rainfall lashed Thoothukudi district, causing floods, residents of Bharathi Nagar in Mapillaiuratchi panchayat, continue to suffer from inundation. Even on Saturday, December 30, residents said that more than 10 parallel streets in Bharathi Nagar are inundated with waist-level water, which has not been pumped out despite repeated requests. Earlier, on December 24, TNM reported that carcasses of dead animals including rats, goats, and dogs were spotted by residents and local volunteers in Bharathi Nagar and neighbouring Kamaraj Nagar. While the carcasses were removed on December 27, the water has maggots and is continuing to pose health risks, the residents said.
Agnel, a local volunteer who has been visiting Bharathi Nagar to help residents with food and water, told TNM that DMK MP Kanimozhi visited the area on December 27 and ordered the panchayat to immediately pump the water out and undertake sanitisation measures. “The water that had entered houses is still in the same state. It has been two weeks since and the entire residential area stinks. After Kanimozhi’s visit, several electric pumps were sent to Bharathi nagar. But they were taken back after the MP left,” Agnel said.
With the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) having issued a rain alert for the district on Sunday, December 31, residents of Bharathi Nagar are gripped with fear. Sudhagar, one such resident who TNM spoke to, said, “Saravanakumar, the panchayat head came here with the MP but has not visited us after that. We don’t know what is going on and why the water isn’t being pumped out. Officials are only inspecting the main roads. Those of us residing on the interior roads are suffering without help.” Residents have been expressing fears of contracting infectious diseases as they are forced to wade through the unhygienic water to buy essentials and to go to work, said Sudhagar.
On December 22, residents of Bharathi Nagar staged a protest on Ettayapuram main road in Thoothukudi, demanding that the water be pumped out. Following this, they were promised immediate action by the panchayat authorities. However, no help has reached them till date, they said.
TNM reached out to Thoothukudi District Collector G Lakshmipathy, who said that water will be drained out from Bharathi Nagar by January 1. “Bharathi Nagar and some of its neighbouring localities are very low-lying areas. Residents there have encroached the lands and those areas are being classified as ‘unchecked expansions’. We had to take time to study the draining points to pump out the water. We have stationed 40 heavy duty pumps there. It will be cleared in two days,” he said.