Beach vendors and slum swellers on the Marina Beach suffer due to heavy rain

By Theja Ram

Chennai, Oct 21: The hustle of shop vendors and cluster of slum sheds lacked its busy appeal due to the incessant rain over the last few days. Many vendors and dwellers at the Marina beach have moved to other places until the rain dies down, while some are moving to other states.

Some slum dwellers have vacated the premise to set up homes in other parts of the city. “There were around 300 slum sheds here. Around 50 families have evacuated the area due to the heavy rain. My friend Kamala and her husband had to leave as their shed collapsed two days ago,” said Ramamangala, a slum resident who also owns a bajji stall shut temporarily.

A vendor at Marina Beach

Courtesy: Chennai Outdoors

A few immigrants from Raigarh, Maharashtra, who had settled on the beach earlier this year, had carved a livelihood for themselves. The community is now set to move to another state where the calamities are not as adverse. “We do not have jobs in office buildings and houses made of cement. We rely on the business our stalls bring and its being wiped out now. We need some sort of stability and since we have no hope of any help from the government, we have to look out for ourselves,” said Ramendra Kumar, a vendor and immigrant from Raigarh, Maharashtra.  “I had a vada pav stall which is closed now. Some of the others in our community have already left and my family and I will leave tomorrow,” he added.

A juice stall, a few shops selling knick-knacks still remain while the slum sheds on the east of the Marina beach has turned into a wreck. “I’m hoping for the rain to not be so heavy today and that these plastic sheets will help from the rain falling into the counter. I make around 350 to 400 rupees everyday but since the past few days, it’s a struggle to make 50 rupees,” said Kumar Johnny, a juice seller.

The slum dwellers also have their own businesses set up on the beach, which has been shut down for over three days due to the heavy rain.

Sathyam lives with his wife and child in the slum here and runs a business selling beaded jewellery. His  business has been shut temporarily due to the rain. “We had to shut it down so that the tarpaulin could be used to protect our home as it is difficult to sleep on wet sand during the night. We make around 300 rupees everyday with the shop open but we’ve had to live frugally over the last few days withy the stall closed. Usually our child gets three meals a day while my wife and I manage with one or two. Since the rain, we’ve managed only two meals in three days,” he said.

The much frequented beach had only a few people wandering with umbrellas to protect themselves from the impending rain. “Its quite unusual to see so few people on the beach and more so that there are very few shops at this time of the evening. Its quite obvious that the rain has affected the businesses around here and also because many people don’t come here when it rains,” said Krishnaveni Murthy, a resident who frequently visits the beach.

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