Two events of catastrophic proportions within a week and both handled impressively well by this Tamilnadu dispensation, especially Chennai administration.
First, the demise of the Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, last week, when it was least expected and when she was making full recovery from her illness and was almost cleared to go home.
Then it happened, all of a sudden to the utmost grief of her well-wishers, party workers and the people of the State who desperately wanted her to return healthy and continue her leadership. No one was truly prepared for this, though she had been ailing for more than two months, because her fightback was remarkable and indeed hopeful. But then it happened.
And those who remember what happened when last time such a popular Chief Minister passed away, the cold dread hit hard as people closed their shops early and rushed back home to safety. Tens of thousands of her followers and admirers thronged the roads, wailed and waited to get a glimpse of her, the next day, but to everyone’s amazement, were most disciplined and a well organised funeral procession to clock-work precision happened without any glitches. Considering the number of VVIPs like the President himself, the PM and many heads of states, political leaders, celebrities from every field who attended it, this was no small event but a logistical and security nightmare.
Special thanks to the Police who didn’t sleep overnight but worked calmly to control the crowds and ensured full safety of people and properties. Yes there were a few deaths (due to shock and suicides) and a few incidents here and there in the state, but none due to any organised riots or violence as was dreaded. The entire administration needs to be congratulated for managing the whole event in such a short notice so well. More so to those volunteers who offered to help the people, provided the much needed water and food packets through out the day.
Not to miss out, the Amma canteens that worked over time and provided food free of cost. The 5th Dec late afternoon onwards until the 6th late evening, the city was practically shut down. But then 7th morning onwards things were pretty business as usual, though schools and colleges alone were closed for couple of more days. The city was shocked. Yet it moved on..
The second was just two days back when the very severe cyclonic storm – Vardah hit us. Very severely!
Chennai city after having gone through one of the worst flooding in about 100 years during last December, braced towards a storm after about 22 years when its eye passed through the city. Howling winds of increasing speeds since early Monday morning were scary as they grew in strength unabated throughout the day when the speeds touched above 100 kmph when the landfall occurred in the afternoon.
Devastation was going on full swing and scale as the hapless people cowering in their shelters had no clue what was really happening around them until they stepped out to see yesterday morning. Not a single tree was spared. Electric poles and lamp posts were all uprooted. The city once again plunged into darkness since Monday as power was cut off as precautionary measure. Cars were crushed under the trees. Some even overturned by the fury of the storm. Bill boards and hoardings crashed down. Glass facades of hotels flew away, as thatched roofs and tiles of homes and buildings were destroyed beyond recognition. Add to this upto about 30 cms of rains received!
Once again the administration was remarkable in evacuating more than 10000 people to safe places from shores well in advance. That the number of reported deaths were only about 10 to 15 for the scale of this disaster speaks volumes of the precautions taken and communication given in advance. By late yesterday evening, most of the main roads were cleared of the debris, traffic was smooth, power was back and phone network was restored.
Yes the TV is still down (don’t know if the dish is there on the terrace yet!) and wifi network is yet to come back, but the milkman delivered milk yesterday morning and today too! And once again Amma canteens were open and working overtime and providing food free of cost.
When the cyclone Phailin hit Orissa in 2013, the State administration was praised, especially the CM, Naveen Patnaik, for safe evacuation of people and the least number of casualties. Given the havoc wreaked, this one was no less a challenge and no mean an achievement to get the city back to normal within 24 hours. The entire administration including the political leaders were in the forefront to provide relief and rescue measures.
If Naveen Patnaik deserved credits, I don’t understand why O Panneerselvam and his team shouldn’t. That too just a weak after their most powerful and beloved leader had passed away in an untimely manner. When most people (mostly outside the state) expected the administration to be a headless chicken after Jayalalithaa. Perhaps this is their best tribute to their departed leader. To ensure law and order, safety and security and the discipline that she always instilled among her party workers and in the administration. And that showed. Most importantly in her absence….