Actor, politician Kamal Haasan is at the forefront of distributing relief materials once again in Chennai, as the captial city of Tamil Nadu emerges from one of the worst hit rainfalls in recent times. Cyclone Michaung which crossed Chennai on December 3, 2023 brought the city to a standstill with prolonged inundation, power supply cut, and phone, internet network outages.
Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM) leader and star actor Kamal Haasan stepped out on December 8, 2023 [Friday] to distribute 5000 kits containing grocery essentials like rice, wheat, rava, tea, sugar, and salt for the flood-affected families in the first phase. Meeting the press outside his Alwarpet office, Kamal Haasan once again reiterated his years old take that people should not be developing real estate over marshlands, wetlands and waterbodies.
"There is no doubt that what had come before [in 2015] was a tragedy, but what has come now [in 2023] is a disaster..Scientists warn that such disasters will become more frequent in the future due to climate change...We have to prepare for it...It is the duty of the government to create awareness about disaster management among the public..What the government needs to do now is to speed up relief efforts and prevent the spread of the disease. Places of public gathering including schools, educational institutions, and offices should be used after proper disinfection...
...We will distribute more such kits to needy people. We have opened a call centre to assist the people. A kitchen to prepare food for 5000 people has been set up and it would function as long as it required. We are also planning to conduct medical camps..
That song [Pathala Pathala from 2022 movie Vikram] was sung by me after accepting all your [people's] opinions. It is not my sculpted inscription, that is unknown to anyone. Everyone knows about this*
*The said four lines from Pathala Pathala with lyrics by Kamal Haasan goes, 'If you put plot (lands on) and sell even lakes, rivers and ponds, a small rain could stink the city and its people. Conveniently you are stepping aside (overlooking this problem). Come and work on the ground (level). The country will change automatically.'
But when we want homes, we do not see if the area we want houses on is a wet land or not. As long as we get (a piece of) land, we dump soil on it (and turn it into a ground for buildings). This is our fault only first. Then we can point fingers at the government....This is a mistake of everyone's....
No politician can promise that this (flooding and inundation due to to natural disasters) will stop with this year...People too should take part in stopping this is my opinion...We feel the ways to protect us are less because whatever precaution we took, the natural disaster brought in more...Right now it is not important if the ADMK (ruling party in 2015) was at fault, or the DMK (Tamil Nadu's ruling party in 2023) is at fault. People are undeserving of this current sorry state which is all I have to say. So we have to make arrangements (to help people), without getting angry, irrespective of which party is in power.
..Climate change is something that is happening all over the world..Everyone here (in Chennai) were proudly saying that we can face upto 20cm of rainfall..However what had come was a downpour of 56 cm in 24 hours...Right now instead of playing the blame game, we should focus on helping people on the ground. We can have our complaints session later. For a government body to reach 1 Cr people immediately at the same time is impossible. So we too should take necessary precautions, and try to involve ourselves in helping others. Not only us (MNM), but we are all bound by that duty."
It is worth mentioning here that Kamal Haasan has been voicing out against real estate encroachment on waterbodies even before his political entry and the deluge of 2015 in Chennai. He had also shocked his critics back in 2015, when an atheist Kamal Haasan stressing on the importance of protecting waterbodies said, "Add to the list of your deities... start paying obeisance to rivers and rain. If that kind of devotion comes, they will be protected,"