Every house in RR Nagar slum in Kodungaiyur knows Godzilla. Packets of citronella incense sticks named Godzilla double as a mosquito repellent in the hundreds of houses between Chennai’s largest corporation dump yard and Captain Cotton Canal, ever since a massive infestation of water hyacinth surfaced the channel two months back.
Daily wage workers, who live in the tiny slum settlements, spend about a third of their monthly income to buy these sticks that come in packets of Rs 15. D Devarathi, a 63-year-old widow, pulls out a notepad, in which she notes the everyday debt she owes the local grocery shop. “I spent over Rs 3,000 in July alone to buy the repellent,” she said while adding the figures.