Monsoon 2008: Excess rains paralyse life for Chennai residents

Shocked over what has happened in Mumbai isolated in their houses due to rising flood waters, residents in most parts of Chennai found it difficult to go about their daily activities. But the Neros of the land fiddled. They staged not active rescues of people trapped in marooned regions, but public reunions after equally public squabbles.

While Mumbai was the natural major story, newspapers were keen to pursue these non-events locally, rather than call the leaders to account. There were some attempts at reporting the rain damage, but they were, ironically, dry and weak.

The Chennai Corporation administration appeared to be rotting at a pace that matched the soggy garbage that lay in the dumps; four patients died at the government-run Institute of Mental Health, Ayanavaram, after they drank the only stagnant water that they had access to in their cells; the newspapers glossed over this story, and converted it into a PR exercise; the MTC and the Chennai Corporation could not come together to identify the worst roads that should be repaired, to resume much-needed bus services; the Southern Railway did not run trains for hours on end, as the tracks got flooded — this posed a threat to the Japanese motors that power the commuter trains, and a ruined motor cannot be replaced without being imported, in this technological superpower that is India.

Here are a set of photos of what the scene was in one part of the city. By no means the best representation of the rot, but still relevant. The rains during 2008 have been worryingly in excess of the norm. If this trend continues, it is anybody’s guess what the future will look like in the “Detroit of India.”

Chennai Monsoon Scenes November 2008

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