Chennai Floods : How “National” Is Our Media?

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Indian residents attempt to push a vehicle through floodwaters as others wade past in Chennai on December 2, 2015. India has deployed troops to Tamil Nadu and closed the main airport there after heavy rains worsened weeks of flooding that has killed nearly 200 people in the southern coastal state. Thousands of rescuers carrying diving equipment, inflatable boats and medical equipment were battling to evacuate victims across the flooded state, officials said. AFP PHOTO/STR / AFP / STRDEL (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

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Photo Credits- Anshu Samantaray & Aditya Ravi Kumar

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Photo Credits- Anshu Samantaray & Aditya Ravi Kumar

My home is surrounded right now, I went out and got enough supplies for the next few days, I consider myself to be very lucky. Many are stuck at different areas but there are people willing to help everywhere. I am sharing their contact information with whoever I can. We haven’t had power in a while and I’m afraid I can’t take my bike out in these water to bring people home. So I’m doing the best I can through this screen.- Aditya Ravi Kumar
I’m trying to reach my family and my boyfriend who have been trapped for many days in the floods, but the lines aren’t connecting. The last time I talked to both, the food was running low and power was almost non-exisitant. There’s been continous rain for almost the past 3 weeks and yet no media coverage, no Save Chennai hashtag’s have generated. The people are majorly pissed and yet they feel so helpless too – Rashikaa
The roads are caving in, generators aboie soon, we’re okay but there’s water everywhere. Its getting rather scary,we can hear sirens blaring and animals kicking up a riot. The Chief minister lives down the road but even our street has knee deep water. At least there is light today, yesterday was pitch dark the entire day. We can only hope the rain stops soon- Niyati Sareenut to d

Tamil Nadu is reeling under one of the worst disasters the state has ever faced and the situation seems to only be getting worse. With over 200 deaths reported and the danger of even more rainfall expected for the area, the situation faced by those trapped in and around the area just seems to be getting worse. What is surprising here is the lack of media coverage you’d see about the issue. The news about Chennai has surprisingly being banished to small 50 word sections in newspapers and one headline which doesn’t even feature in the Prime time news and has surprisingly been given lesser importance than Mark Zuckerbergs donation to chartity after the birth of his daughter or the Indrani Mukherjee Murder case.  The apathy and selectivism of the news media comes to fore after it only reacted and covered the issue after posts by angry citizens blaming them for looking the other way. A resident of Chennai penned an open letter to ‘National News Channels’, excoriating them for conspicuously ignoring the disaster in Tamil Nadu and instead focusing on intolerance debate, Sheena Bora murder case and other issues which could be relevant but not as important as the floods in Chennai that have claimed so many lives.

I have seen several times in the past when toll-free numbers are set, relief materials collected by each of your channels etc but cannot see the word Chennai floods even in the breaking news section which in any case is breaking a lot of news which are irrelevant. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t cover this news but for heaven sake don’t call yourselves national news channel by any means,” Sujith Kumar posted on Facebook.

The lack of coverage may not seem evident enough but if anyone contrasts it with anything like the coverage of the Nepal Earthquake, a disaster of enormous proportions but still one that occurred on foreign territory. While the Indian media is missing in Chennai, during the Nepal earthquakes they had to be sent back home and the hashtag #IndianMediaGoHome trended on twitter. Why then, does our media care more about our neighbours but then disappear when the citizens need you?

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Photo Credits- Anshu Samantaray & Aditya Ravi Kumar

As media students, or even students who work together here at UE, are appalled at how little the coverage of the media spans to cities down south or in the East. Many of us hope to go on to work at the very Media houses that are now ignoring the plight of those in Chennai. Not only is it heartbreaking to student like us, but we can’t even imagine how frustrating it would be to those who are trapped. The media’s enormously late reaction to this disaster has led us to wonder at how “nation” is this media? If you cover Bihar and Mumbai with such fervour, where are you when Chennai needs you?

In a heavy and heartwarming contrast to this, in their hour of tragedy, Chennaiites have come out in large numbers to help the people in need by opening the doors of their homes, malls and offices to strangers and offering them food, shelter and even mobile recharges. From students at SRM University offering accommodation to anyone who has been trapped, to bakeries, hotels, multiplexes all offering shelter. Ola cabs has even started Olaboats in order to help those in need.

If you are stuck in Chennai or wish to help, here are a few links that you could use-

• This page is a great source for those who can help with any provisions or volunteer efforts:
https://www.facebook.com/ChennaiRainRelief2015/?fref=ts

• This google sheet helps to find places to stay:
https://docs.google.com/…/1rZc3e9scewKxbZBn0vfDqk…/htmlview…

• This map is a crowdsourced map on which areas of Chennai are flooded
http://osm-in.github.io/flood-map/chennai.html…

• Relief centres from Chennai Corporation:
http://www.chennaicorporation.gov.in/abou…/Relief_centre.pdf

• NDMA emergency nos and do’s and dont’s during flood.
http://www.ndma.gov.in/en/do-s-dont-s.html

• Google has activated the crisis response page for the Chennai floods:http://google.org/crisisresponse/2015-chennai-flooding

• Chennai Corporation has announced Emergency Contact Numbers for all the regional zones in the city. Public can contact the following numbers in case of any emergency due to the floods.

HELPLINE NUMBERS:

  • Tree fall, Water logging – 1913
  • Sewage overflow – 45674567, 22200335
  • State Emergency: 1070
  • District Emergency: 1077
  • Electricity: 1912
  • Fire & Rescue: 101

 

  • 01st Regional Office(Tiruvottiyur) 9445190001
  • 02nd Regional Office(Manali) 9445190002
  • 03rd Regional Office(Madhavaram) 9445190003
  • 04th Regional Office(Tondiarpet) 9445190004
  • 05th Regional Office(Royapuram) 9445190005
  • 06th Regional Office(Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar) 9445190006
  • 07th Regional Office(Ambattur) 9445190007
  • 08th Regional Office(Annanagar) 9445190008
  • 09th Regional Office(Teynampet) 9445190009
  • 10th Regional Office(Kodambakkam) 9445190010
  • 11th Regional Office (Valasaravakkam) 9445190011
  • 12th Regional Office(Alandur) 9445190012
  • 13th Regional Office (Adyar) 9445190013
  • 14th Regional Office(Perungudi) 9445190014
  • 15th Regional Office(Sholinganallur) 9445190015

CHENNAI

  •  Fort-Tondiarpet 94450 00484
  • Purasawakkam-Perambur 94450 00485
  • Egmore-Nungambakkam 94450 00486
  • Mylapore-Triplicane 94450 00487
  • Mambalam-Guindy 94450 00488

THIRUVALLUR

  • Ambattur 94450 00489
  • Ponneri 94450 00490
  • Gummudipoondi 94450 00491
  • Thiruthani 94450 00492
  • Pallipattu 94450 00493
  • Thiruvallur 94450 00494
  • Uthukottai 94450 00495
  • Poonamallee 94450 00496

KANCHEEPURAM

  • Kancheepuram 94450 00497
  • Uthiramerur 94450 00498
  • Sriperumbudur 94450 00499
  • Chengalpattu 94450 00500
  • Thirkkalukunram 94450 00501
  • Tambaram 94450 00502
  • Madurantakam 94450 00503
  • Cheyyur 94450 00504

Stay Safe Tamil Nadu, we’re here for you.

We would like to thank Anshu Samantaray & Aditya Ravi Kumar for providing us with the photos. We hope you and everybody else stays safe.

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