Cyclone Michaung | Nightmare persists in north Chennai: families struggle amidst toxic floodwaters, lack of medical aid and relief

Migrant workers say natives blocked relief from reaching them; snake-bite victim asked to pay for treatment by govt. hospital, alleges his sister

Updated - December 09, 2023 10:59 pm IST

Published - December 09, 2023 09:39 pm IST - Chennai

Migrant labourers sitting on the roof of their company at Manali High Road, Tiruvottiyur during the floods.

Migrant labourers sitting on the roof of their company at Manali High Road, Tiruvottiyur during the floods. | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

“At first the water was clear on December 4. Later, the black discharge seeped in. This caused skin irritations for about 50 families here. But no medical camps are held here to get treated for free. We stayed in a private school bus for two days and had to request locals on higher floors for toilet facilities. We are scared of what the next set of rains hold for us,” says an 18-year-old school student, who is a Uttar Pradesh native in Burma Nagar of Sadayankuppam in Tiruvottiyur in Zone 1.

With the Class 12 student’s notes put to dry in the attic of their one-room home, she feared she may have to drop out from the Corporation Higher Secondary School in Sathyamoorthy Nagar in Manali she was enrolled.

The girl stated the situation was tougher for migrant workers since the natives allegedly blocked any relief from reaching them, as a sign of alienation. As electricity was restored partly here from noon of December 7 even as inundation continued in most places, people alleged that relief and medical aid were yet to reach them.

The girl, standing amid knee-deep water, added: “My brother was bit by a snake on December 5 when we were walking towards the bus. No emergency services worked, and our phones were damaged. A passerby autorickshaw driver helped us reach Government Stanley Hospital, where we were charged for treatment. He is better now. Do you see dead rats, household garbage and broken bricks surfaced by the roadside? I cross this to get home daily. I have been seeking clothes from friends as all I own is soiled with oil.

After 120 hours since the torrential rain, Sadayankuppam still faces water logging, as per a data shared by the Greater Chennain Corporation.


Govindaray, 65, a shopkeeper, said the water level was two feet higher than it was in 2015. “Inundation is usual during monsoon here, but not this prolonged. Back then, many, including the industry representatives in the area and NGOs, came forward to help. This time, when the situation was worse, very few helped. We were lucky enough to have an additional floor. The daily-wage workers guided residents through the floods here to get to a community centre where hundreds were forced to stay with cattle and dogs. As the centre was also flooded, they were made to stay in private school buses arranged by the owners of industries close by.

Down the area, towards Manali New Town, in Sathyamoorthy Nagar of Zone 3, Murali, 25, who works in a mechanic shop, alleged that they drudged through neck-deep inundation with oil discharge on December 5. “Water receded completely at roughly 1 a.m. of December 8. You can find the remnants of oil in the vehicles here for repair and the walls of homes,” he said. The oil was initially detected in the micro-channel in Manali that led to Buckingham Canal during the heavy rain on December 4, but no action was taken then, the mechanic shop worker alleged.

When The Hindu contacted Mayor R. Priya on December 4 regarding the same, she mentioned that Manali was an industry-heavy zone and that the relief measures were a top priority during incessant downpours.


Ramesh, a taxi driver residing in Kathivakkam under Ward 1, close to the fishermen’s settlement in Ennore said the inundation was only knee-deep but filled with garbage and oil from all the areas as water drained from various parts down to the sea here. “Adding to this was the release of untreated sewage from factories to the waterlogged streets,” he stated.

Asked about the issues faced by the residents, Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner J. Radhakrishnan said a medical camp would immediately be arranged in the areas for the people. “We take cognizance of the migrant workers’ issue as well, and relief will be made available for them,” he said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.