RDT Stretches its Helping Hands to Flood Victims of CHENNAI and NELLORE
RDT has set its base camps on 6th December 2015 to stretch its helping hands to the flood victims of Nellore and Chennai and its suburbs. Each team has 22 members which include senior directors, middle level managerial staff, doctor, nurses, community organizers, drivers and support staff.
The Team in Nellore is stationed at Audisankara College of Engineering & Technology which is located on Chennai-Kolkata National Highway (NH-5) at about 3 Kilometres from GUDUR Town and 38 Kilometres from Nellore while the Team sent to Chennai has set up its base camp in the training hall owned by SIPA (Federation of South India Producers Association), Siramathur which is a small village in Kunnattur Taluk in Kanchipuram District of Tamil Nadu State. It is located 39 Kilometres towards East from District headquarters Kanchipuram and is 37 Kilometres from State Capital Chennai.
The team after setting up its base met the District Collector and District Revenue Officer (DRO) to brief about the purpose of their visit and solicited their co-operation and support to carry out relief and other need based works in worst affected villages. DRO who had earlier worked in Ananthapuram district very much knows about RDT and is quite positive to extend his best possible support to the team. He had given a list of 15 villages which are worst affected by recent floods.
Later the team met Mrs. M. Janaki, IAS, District Collector of NELLORE and briefed about their plan of action. She too ratified the list of villages given by DRO. She has requested the team to look into the needs of labours associated with aqua ponds (ROYYALACHERU). Local Member of State Legislative Assembly also added additional villages which need to be covered under relief works.
Team was further divided into four sub-teams to carry out survey to assess the actual needs of flood victims. Doctor assisted by two nurses has so far conducted mobile health camps in 6 villages and 674 patients who are mostly women and children suffering from health problems such as diarrhoea, typhoid/malaria fevers, respiratory infections and skin problems were treated. Persons who attended medical camps were given health awareness since a majority of them are poor and illiterate with absolutely a very low level of knowledge on basic health aspects.
Team tentatively identified and shortlisted around 3507 families in 34 villages spread across 7 Mandals for relief work. A majority of them belong to Scheduled Cates and Scheduled Tribes (YANADIS). Another 200 families are likely to be added.
“A majority of people are labourers working either in paddy fields or aqua ponds and these were washed out due to heavy floods. The condition of people in a few villages is horrible and they are living in poor huts with no flooring.
It is really a pathetic situation to see people sleeping on small sized wooden flanks and paddy husk/grass in their huts to protect themselves from damp weather. Rains stopped but the weather is cloudy indicating likely showers in coming days.
There is a need for providing a package of food grains since they have no employment after floods. It may take another one or two months for them to get back to their normal state and carry out their livelihoods. The team has decided to provide 25 kilograms of rice, 2 kilograms of red grams, 2 litres of oil packets, 2 kilograms of sugar, 1 mat, 2 blankets, 1 sari, 1 lungi and 1 tea shirt for each family.
Team is thinking of providing one school bag and 4 note books since their reading and writing materials were totally damaged. In one village namely PURITI PALYAM a group of farmers had requested to provide 30 electrical motors since their electrical motors were washed away leaving no scope for lift irrigation to cultivate paddy crops. In another 2 villages namely GANGANNA PALYAM (88) & CHINNA VALASA PADAVA (30) families relying upon fishing had asked for fishing nets.
A local district official by name Dr. Subbaraju who had earlier worked as Health Officer, Ananthapuram Municipal Corporation has extended initial support and is also accompanying the team to a few villages. He is working as district co-ordinator for school health program in Nellore district and is very much familiar with some of the members of RDT Family. The team has also been getting good support from the management of engineering college. We are eating outside only in the afternoons but our breakfast and dinner is provided by college authorities. Our stay is comfortable and we are getting the best support from the management which has also deputed some of its lecturers/staff to help us in our relief work. Some of the students financially assisted by RDT are pursuing their engineering course in that college.
People are eager to receive relief materials from RDT that has successfully carried out survey work without missing any eligible family. There is definitely a need to work with Scheduled Tribes (YANADI) whose living conditions look much worse like Chenchus. Education and Housing seem to be one of the top priorities since they are mostly illiterate and are living in poor huts located in water logged conditions. They are always prone for precarious floods. The team couldn’t find even one student who has completed 10th class from amongst YANADIS in villages visited by them indicating widespread illiteracy and extreme conditions of poverty.
Members of our team are highly spirited to carry out relief work successfully. The experience the team had in handling situations arising out of natural calamities earlier is very much helpful to cope up with the situation that prevails here and we very much believe in providence that works wonders when we work for those who are in unprecedented difficult situations “Mr. G. Nageswara Reddy, Director, Team Leader, Nellore
Dr.K.Panchakasharam, founder of SIPA, has extended support to RDT team to set up its base in Chennai. Dr.Murali who had earlier worked as a Medical Officer in RDT has been quite helpful since he was associated with SIPA till recently. He is also accompanying the team in the survey work. Needy places namely Anakapothur and Thambaram of South Chennai, Manalini, Madhavaram, Vicchaturu and Pichhaturu of North Chennai, R.KNagar, R.K.Peta and Kadaluru areas were identified. 4-sub-teams were formed to carry out relief works and to look into logistics of meeting government officials/local leaders prior to distribution of relief materials.
501 patients were treated in Health camps conducted in two villages namely Barmanagar and Kadayankuppam on 8th December 2015. A majority of people are suffering from fevers and respiratory infections. 866 families were identified for relief work so far by the teams that are conducting door to door survey in three villages namely Dadayankuppam colony (265), Barmanagar (160) and Santhinagar (441).
A majority of families are with a very low socio-economic profile and they are mostly from places like Andhra Pradesh (Nellore), Assam and Orissa States who got permanently settled down for livelihood in Chennai. These are slum areas in low lying areas and hence, were completely drowned by flood waters of ADAYAR River. It has been decided to provide essentials such as rice, red gram, bed sheets, saris, lungi and mats. There is also request for Kerosene stoves. Two purchase officers from Ananthapuram had joined the team to speed up the process of buying relief materials which will be completed before 10th of December and distribution starts immediately.
“People are still in shocked condition and there is good response from various organizations to speed up the process of relief work. The places which we visited are mostly slum areas with no proper drainage system and they are in very low lying areas. Even when small rains come they get inundated by rainwaters.
During November 2015 the city received over 1200 mm of rain which is three times its monthly rainfall. On I December it received 374 mm of rainfall. Even today it is raining and the forecast for the week says heavy rainfall will continue. It will take a long time to restore normalcy in the state.
Infrastructure especially roads and causeways were completely broken and the houses were with full of mud and other garbage. We are glad that a few volunteers from FORD, a motor company also joined our team to extend support. We are planning to have a systematic distribution of relief materials and will not miss out even a single family in the places identified by the team.
We are also getting support from local people and leaders. Even the district administration is extending co-operation in the identification of families in needy places. Ex-employee of RDT is quite helpful since he is familiar with local people and administrators. The team got the feeling that they have a rare opportunity to serve those who are in desperate need of others’ help. We observed both rich and poor waiting to receive safe drinking water and for getting medical help. Our previous experience is certainly very helpful to guide new members” Mr. SUDHEER, Director, Team Leader