As Tamil Nadu struggles to get back on its feet after the worst flooding it has seen in decades, actor Siddharth, who is being hailed as a hero for his tireless relief efforts in the state, has painted a real and gritty picture of the devastation.
Ground reality is there is excess food in most of d flood affected areas in south chennai.plz avoid food if u r a small team in thse places.— RJ Balaji (@RJ_Balaji) December 5, 2015
The actor has been called 'Chennai's Hero' -- a title not to be taken lightly in a state that worships its matinee stars -- and lavished with praise on social media for his fantastic work in bringing succour to the survivors. In an interview with TV channel NDTV yesterday, he said he was "neither an opponent or a proponent of this government". He said the floods were of such epic proportions that any state government would find the rehabilitation a long and intense process.
The actor's description of the flood damage is as real as it's ever going to get -- he's himself suffered loss of property after flood water entered his house. Siddharth also rued the fact the national media was late on the scene. Cuddalore district in the state suffered flash floods as early as November 15.
He is uncomfortable with the tag of a hero as several celebrities had rushed to aid the flood-stricken state. After working in Chennai, the actor moved his focus to Cuddalore after people on social media claimed it has been hit badly.
We are personally handling over 20 trucks to Cuddalore. Breaking them up into small loads. Targeting worst affected first. Rest assured.— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 8, 2015
After driving through the city, he discovered that north Chennai needed more help, and Cuddalore district was not as badly off as people were making it out to be. "The main issue is that they have lost agricultural land. What you see around you is not a lake, it's land that has become a water body... there is a loss for agriculture and people have lost their employment. Emergency helpers cannot help with this," he said in the interview. "My team and I have not had our legs dry for five days. We've had water till above our knees in Chennai. But Cuddalore town is completely dry," he said. " My house in Chennai has no electricity, whereas over 60 per cent of Cuddalore villages had power and weren't waterlogged."
I said cuddalore needs help. It's just not the disaster zone people are making it out to be. We have an (cont) https://t.co/iW5PJSdid0— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 8, 2015
He also painted a real picture of what was now required to help the people: "The need of the hour is very simple. You need to go with volunteers and police protection to the really small hamlets...they're not getting their supplies... on the main roads of Cuddalore, people who don't need emergency supplies are attacking relief vehicles and running away with it all."
After apologising for sounding selfish, the actor revealed that he had lost a lot: "My house, three studios, my office. Three cars, everything's gone. I have to go back and start...I have a film releasing in two weeks, and I don’t even know if that’s happening now," he said.
The Rang De Basanti actor said rehabilitation was a long-term process, and required logistical support. "We have a million sanitary napkins, but women don't have underwear," he said. "Instead people need bedding, and shelter... the latter needs to be done on a large administrative level," he said.
Urgent. Women's undergarments are bring requested in all areas. Sanitary napkins are in good supply. Please donate undergarments in bulk.— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 6, 2015
Food is not the priority. Water is receding. Life is returning to normal. Donate bedsheets, candles, insect repellent, water. #chennaimicro— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 6, 2015
Here are some reactions to his work on Twitter:
You Are The Real Life Hero Sir 😎😎😎December 5, 2015
Fell in love with him in Rang De Basanti, never knew he is such a hero in real life too @Actor_Siddharth <3— Scarlett (@tweetria) December 4, 2015
Greatest takeaway from the rains thus far - @actor_siddharth is a hero both on, and off screen. Massive respect to you, sir!— Lavanya (@lavsmohan) December 4, 2015
Hat tip, Sid.
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