After bracing strong winds on Wednesday as Cyclone Nivar made landfall, Chennaites woke up to reports of uprooted trees, waterlogging and flooded areas across the city.
The cyclone landed during the early hours of Thursday, displacing many people from low lying areas and the banks of the river Koovam and Adyar flowing through the city.
Amidst the district administration, local bodies and other government agencies working at multiple levels for relief work, city-based Srini Swaminathan is ensuring that thousands of the vulnerable and displaced are fed.
Since Wednesday, Srini, an independent social development consultant, has provided tea, buns and bread and chapati packets to about 3,000 people. Srini had helped migrants returning on the ‘Shramik’ trains during the COVID-19 lockdown in a similar way.
“I am connecting donors to small businesses who prepare the meals. Volunteers like me are delivering the food packets,” Srini says. Srini adds that though Cyclone Nivar did not cause the heavy losses estimated by the authorities, relief would have to continue for the next five days at least.
As per the figures from the Chennai Municipal Corporation, there are 4,000 people affected and moved to 64 relief camps across North Chennai. The affected victims are mainly from Velachery, Saidapet, Ram Nagar, Washermanpet and Madipakkam areas.
“There are three trusted vendors who provide tea, bread and chapati. Donors who are willing to help contact me and I inform them where the money is needed for Cyclone Nivar, and accordingly the money gets directly deposited from the donors account to the vendors,” Srini says.
Srini says he remains the connecting link between the donors and vendors for clarity and transparency. He does not share the vendors’ bank information publicly because many donors may contribute money directly to the vendors without Srini’s knowledge and it becomes difficult to keep track of the funds for this cause. The vendors’ bank accounts may be flooded with money and they may not know why.
Acting as a connecting platform, Srini ensures the funds reach the food and tea vendors in a balanced manner based on the requirement from relief centres and the on ground situation.
“To maintain financial transparency, the system works in a way that the donor knows where to send the money and a clear account of the transactions is maintained,” Srini tells The Better India.
“I urge donors to message me and discuss the donations, after which I will direct them to the vendors. The vendors will use the money to buy rations and prepare food for beneficiaries,” Srini adds.
For the current crisis of Cyclone Nivar, the consultant says that an initial fund of Rs 1 Lakh collected and saved during the lockdown was used, and an additional Rs 1 Lakh has been received from donors.
“We have provided over 200 tea and about 2,400 food packets to rescued populations, government staff, rescue forces and sanitary workers in the past two days for Nivar. But more money is needed to provide the help required in the coming days,” he adds.
Any donors willing to contribute for the relief effort should contact Srini here.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)