What Chennai must learn from the recent rains

I love my city. I am absolutely passionate about it, so much that, I haven’t even migrated out for a career pursuit yet. But if there is something that I want the city to scale up desperately, it has to be the way it responds to the fury of nature. The rains came, delivered and has still not left. As the city limps back to normality, it matters how we rise from this season and prevent another such man-made disaster
To put things in perspective, the problem is not one.
When the roads are relaid every year without scouring the top layer, the height of the road increases thus relatively lowering the floor of the buildings along it, in due course of time. Storm water drains are constructed at a height that is perhaps the contractor’s version of an ‘elevated corridor’.
The call of the situation demanded us to go out into the streets and help one another. Mumbai is a case in point. Every year the rains come and play havoc. And yet, people come out of their homes, set up small counters to serve food to those stranded or walking back home. People welcome strangers into their homes to stay overnight. Cosmopolitan Mumbai has inculcated co-existence among her Mumbaikars that includes helping one another while conservative Chennai happily chose to troll online instead. All this, amidst laments that the national media did not cover their suffering.
With state elections due next year, the media coverage was nauseatingly keen on covering/showering the suffering of the public on respective affiliated channels. The Mayor of the Chennai Corporation was conspicuous by his absence. Spare a thought for those policemen that relentlessly worked standing in the waters, the MTC bus drivers that plied, the EMU train services that continued to run, the duty doctors at the government hospitals. Alas, the lasting memory of this season would be the opportunistic marketing undertaken by OLA. and none of their cabs or that of others plied, mind you!
Is there a solution at all?
oh yes! Ban plastic, clear storm water drains, earmark street-wise garbage dumping, form groups of local youth as friends of police to champion local issues, conduct locality wise open house sessions with the public. Cleanliness and green cover must be made priorities not to the government but the public which has to actively imbibe these qualities in itself if its expectations from the government are anything to be fulfilled. Remember that clean cities do not flood. Cities with trees do not flood
The rains are galloping to beat its all-time highest rainfall in Chennai recorded in 1918. With the torrent tonight, that record, a few lake bunds and our flickering spirit would have been broken. For a city that is known for its mature cricketing crowd and balanced culture, a characteristic spirit is glaringly absent. Not many cities across the world boast of an existence of 376 years. We must make it count and that is possible only by upping the sprit of the city. The kind of spirit that makes you ‘whistle podu’
Shashikanth Jayaraman
Pic Courtesy: Internet

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