Chennaites witnessed the service activities rendered by swayamsevaks and their associated organisations during the flood which engulfed the whole of Chennai while the Government machinery was a total failure.
The Chennai tragedy provides many lessons for both the Government and the society. During the tsunami of 2004, the coastal areas of Chennai almost collapsed, but the State Government formulated no plan disaster management. Another reason for the State's failure to conduct relief activities fast was that it ignored the Central Government’s direction regarding disaster management measures. It was also a result of not providing proper waste management measures at par with rapid development of the city.
When plastic waste and such non-degradable substances are not processed properly the water do not seep into the interior of earth even after a small rainfall. This is what happened in Chennai. Construction works in wetlands and mangrove forest areas also led to extensive flood. It was very well seen in the area where Chennai Airport is situated. That is why the whole area was submerged in water. The flood in Chennai airport was also due to ruthless growth of marshy areas. Here even the airplanes drifted away in flood.
The states including Kerala should also learn a lesson from Chennai disaster. In Kerala, flats and huge malls are being constructed by filling vast paddy fields. State government of Kerala should take precaution so that Kerala do not become another Chennai soon.
In Chennai area there were about 800 ponds and 100 lakes. Most of them have now been filled and permission was granted to construct huge buildings over them. Thus, there was no channel for water to flow away.
‘We would have died if swayamsevaks
A Muslim family consisting of a mother and her only son were stranded in the first floor of a house. The 20 year old son had high fever. The swayamsevaks reached there on time and rescued them. The mother said with tears in her eyes that they would have died there if swayamsevaks had not reached on time and rescued them.
The swayamsevaks shifted children and elderly people
to safe places on the handcarts from flood affected
houses. An old Muslim man who handed over his grand child to swayamsevaks, vehemently told that their only hope was in RSS.
Chennaites witnessed the service activities rendered by swayamsevaks and their associated organisations during the flood which engulfed the whole of Chennai while the Government machinery was a total failure. About 6,000 swayamsevaks actively participated in the relief measures when 75 lakh population was badly affected by flood in Chennai alone. Many sub groups were formed to take care of relief management, drinking water, medical facilities, office, meetings of workers, collection of funds. Largest amount of material for relief measures was collected from Tirupur District.
Doctors from Kerala and Karnataka also reached Chennai for service. On December 6, RSS workers in Kerala collected relief fund for Chennai. In the first phase itself, two lakh bedmats, bedsheets, one lakh buckets, mugs and food materials were distributed via Sewa Bharati. Former Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh of RSS, Shri Suryanarayana Rao, addressed a press meet at the relief management centre.
Hundreds of women also participated in the sewa activities. While distributing materials and food items to the public, a Sewa worker told them that “you are all our brothers and sisters. We have not assembled to give or collect alms. Providing food and other facilities to our brothers and sisters is our duty.” The services of other religious organisations were confined to propaganda. The unique union of Hindu organisations like RSS, Sewa Bharati and others like Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mata Amritanandamayi Math, Jain organisations, Business magnets, was a great experience. The services rendered by the Centre, armed forces, Union Ministers, officials were also appreciated.
K Padmakumar (The writer is RSS Dakshin Kshetra Sewa Pramukh)