Even as the city limps back to normalcy, unprecedented rainfall caused by cyclonic storm Michaung has dealt a severe blow to the factory operations of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in and around Chennai.
Some industrial estates have suffered more damage than others. Losses due to flooding and stoppage of operations would run into several hundreds of crores, according to initial estimates.
, Flooding has crippled operations of MSME units located in State government-developed industrial estates, including Ambattur, Thirumudivakkam, Perungudi and Thirumazhisai, among others.
Thirumazhisai Industrial Estate (TIE) is among the worst affected. Though the water level inside the estate has come down, the surrounding areas are still under 4 feet of water, down from 6-7 feet yesterday. Several people had to be rescued using boats. Access to the estate is still difficult due to water levels outside the estate.
“Diversion of water from Namam Lake is a major cause for the water level remaining high, though the rain has stopped. Water levels inside the estate began receding on Tuesday morning, but a sudden heavy water flow towards the estate due to diversion of water from the lake caused further inundation, and there is still two feet of water. We have been pumping the water out,” said S Gajraj, President of the Thirumazhisai Industrial Estate Manufacturers Association.
While there are over 300 units in TIE, about 600 units are housed outside the estate area, which is still under 3-4 feet deep water.
Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers Association (AIEMA) has sought immediate assistance to pump out water from factories as machines raw materials and finished goods of MSME units worth ₹2000 crore under water.
Water has receded at Kakkalur Industrial Estate, located on the outskirts of Chennai. “We have been waiting for the restoration of power. But there has been no response so far. Only after power is restored will we be able to enter and assess the damage,” said K Baskaran, Secretary, Kakkalur Industrial Estate Manufacturers’ Association.
K. E. Raghunathan, National President, Association of Indian Entrepreneurs, said the state government has not learnt anything about construction of industrial estates. The electrical lines in such estates should be raised at least 20 feet. A major MSME manufacturing hub like Ambattur Industrial Estate is water-logged, besides struggling with a host of other issues.
“Such flooding is not new for Ambattur Industrial Estate, where I I had a factory between 1989 and 2019. The 2015 rains completely flooded my unit, damaging machines and material. As a result, I lost orders and the opportunity to stay in the business. I could never get back to normalcy, and had to give it away. Unfortunately, the government has neglected good construction standards, town planning and proper maintenance of industrial estates, he said.
“I urge the Chief Minister and Ministers for Industries MSMEs to visit these industrial estates and see for themselves the pain of entrepreneurs. With hardly 30 days for the Global Investors’ Meet, industrialists should be positive about reinvesting in the state,” he added.
V Nithiyananthan, General Secretary, Tamilnad Small & Tiny Industries Association said the flooding has damaged the machines and materials of hundreds of small units.
“We request the Chief Minister and the State Government to undertake measures to pump out the water near estates so as to restore operations at the earliest. Also, we request the state government to help the MSMEs get insurance claims on time and possibly speak to banks to delay the loan repayment schedule till we get back to normal,” he stated
Several hundred crores worth of business generation would be lost due to the water logging and consequent stoppage of operations. During the 2015 floods, entrepreneurs didn’t even get 10 per cent of the insurance, he added.