After days of rainfall overflowed onto Chennai’s streets, help came from above, too, with the army and the air force swinging into action to evacuate a record 12,000 people from low-lying inundated areas in and around the city. The damage has not been limited to the metro, either — surrounding regions such as Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Cuddalore have taken a pounding as well, with both crops and property severely damaged. With the state-wide death toll crossing 100, chief minister Jayalalithaa has already announced a ₹500-crore relief package for Tamil Nadu.
The adequacy of the figure is now in question, what with an equivalent amount being filed in claims with insurance companies and many areas of the city still being underwater. So, who is to blame — or is taking the blame — for this mess? Encroachment over key canals and abandoned metro and storm water drain work seem to have all compounded the problems created by high rainfall. But with unseasonal, heavy rainfall, a complete collapse of public infrastructure and unprepared municipal authorities being an inalienable part of everyday life in India, this whole debacle instead puts into serious question Chennai’s claims of being a true-blue metro. Actually, the same can be said of Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata, too.