The last few days have made life at KTCC (Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Chennai and Chengalpattu districts) in TN miserable for many.
It is easy to blame anything or everything. However, there are sections of people like street vendors, micro and small-scale industries, gig workers, auto and taxi drivers with own vehicles, daily wage earners, contractors, perishable goods sellers, and traders situated in waterlogged areas whose life has gone for a toss. It will take months for them to come to terms with the situation.
Some may recover, but many may go into deep coma. They may number close to 25 lakh in the four districts.
The population in KTCC alone is assumed to be 1.75 crore, Many of them are here to earn their livelihood as we have more than 3.50 lakh of industries spread of over 12 SIDCO/SIPCOT constructed industrial estates at Kakalur, Thirumazhisai, Gummidipoondi, Ambattur, Guindy, Thirumudivakkom, Oragadam, Siruseri, Sriperumbudur, Kanchipuram, Kodungaiyur and Maraimalainagar apart from private industrial parks and IT sector offices.
The loss due to this heavy rain is expected to be over ₹11,000 crore. Detailed estimates have been made and they cover a) business loss due to production stoppage b) machinery or asset loss and c) material loss. Over 10 lakh job workers’ livelihood is also at stake.
It is unfortunate that the Tamil Nadu government has not taken this into account in its claim of loss due to the cyclone.
What should the government should do at this moment? Make a high-level team visit all the industrial estates to ascertain the damage; arrange for immediate evacuation of water and restoration of power; create larger strom water drains in all industrial estates; make sure no water enters any premises in the government estate or private industrial parks; provide protection to those estates that are prone to lake breach; raise all EB cables, transformers, distribution boxes and meters to a minimum of 10 ft from the ground level; cancel for three months EB fixed charges, property tax, metro water and sewerage taxes for all those establishments situated in the four districts to allow them liquidity and recovery time; and set up a facilitation centre at each estate for faster insurance claims settlement in partnership with industrial associations at the respective locations.
It should also offer schemes like state govt guarantee for 20 per cent ad hoc increase in loan sanctioned limits like ECGLS of the Centre. TIIC should offer affected industries in these districts loan at a concessional interest. Micro and small enterprises should also be offered raw material on credit through Tansi. The government should also write to RBI seeking three months moratorium on term loans or offer that as a loan through TIIC immediately.
It would also help if the government clears all pending payments of state utilities and government departments. All GST notices and claims should also be put on hold for three months so that efforts can be focused on recovery.
Will the government do all these? Well, it should….
The author is National Chairman, Association of Indian Entrepreneurs