Chennai: A group of concerned citizens involved in relief work post-Chennai floods, 20015 undertook a sample survey of 610 households (including migrants) across the city to assess losses suffered/damages incurred to homes, goods, occupational tools and also to get an idea of loss of working days. The purpose of this survey was to identify the exact quantum of losses sustained by the population and to direct government to compensate the populace for damages/loss accruing on account of the floods.
- Places surveyed: Eekaduthangal, Jaffarkhanpet, Saidpet, Kotturpuram (Adyar flood plains), Mudichur (badly affected suburb), Semmencheri, Perumbakkam (resettlement/new housing tenements for low-income groups), Kodungaiyur, Ponneri (outlying suburbs with poor infrastructural developments.
- More than 95% of people surveyed had not received warnings about impending flooding.
- Inhabitants of over 85% of households surveyed have lost 25-40 working days and concomitant wages, ranging from Rs 250-500/per day.
- Almost all households had lost or were left with irretrievably damaged certificates, household articles, including fridge, washing machine, grinder, mixers, lights, fans, stoves, tools of trade, children’s books, cycles and in some cases bikes and scooters.
- Total losses sustained by households range from Rs 75,000 (including wages lost and cost of damage to homes) to Rs 50,000.
It is clear that:
- rampant real estate growth, unviable building sanctions, and encroachment on water bodies by powerful business and state interests have rendered urban flooding inevitable.
- the city of Chennai was utterly unprepared for disaster. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report had pointed out that the State as such was unprepared.
- the city of Chennai had not put early flood warning mechanisms in place; in spite of radar information pointing to a pattern of heavy rain and flooding, the city had not put in place a system for gradual release of water from overflowing water bodies.
- since government of Tamil Nadu had not sought to mitigate flood-related damages in spite of such damages being foreseeable, it must accept culpability for losses sustained by the people.
Those who have suffered losses need to have recourse to restorative justice, to be compensated for losses sustained on account of state inaction or not adequate action.
- proper enumeration of losses to be undertaken by the state government.
- due compensation amounts fixed and paid within specified time frame; that compensation is not linked to eviction and resettlement.
- that for purposes of compensation migrant working people are accorded the same rights as non-migrants.
The full report Report of Survey of Losses Sustained during Chennai Floods_20160113 can be accessed here.