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Uddhav takes on PM: ‘Not conducting survey from helicopter but taking stock of situation on the ground’

Thackeray also said that a relief package would be announced for the affected people after damage assessment is completed in the next two days.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 22, 2021 12:52:47 am
Relatives of crew members of barge P305 outside the mortuary at JJ hospital in Mumbai on Friday. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

Taunting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his aerial survey of the cyclone-affected areas in Gujarat, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said that he was not undertaking an aerial survey from a helicopter but was on the ground to assess the damage caused in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts by Cyclone Tauktae. Thackeray also said that a relief package would be announced for the affected people after damage assessment is completed in the next two days.

The remarks come after the PM conducted an aerial survey of his home state of Gujarat, which bore the brunt of the cyclone, but gave Maharashtra a miss. Financial aid worth Rs 1,000 crore has also been announced for Gujarat.

“I am not conducting an aerial survey from a helicopter but taking stock of the situation on the ground,” Thackeray told mediapersons when asked about BJP’s criticism that he is scheduled to visit the affected areas only for a few hours. He maintained that he had not come for a “photo session”. Asked about the PM not visiting or surveying affected areas in Mahar-ashtra, Thackeray said, “Even if he has not visited, the PM is a sensitive person and will certainly stand behind Maharashtra like Gujarat in granting more relief.”

State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said on Friday that the PM had planned to undertake an aerial survey of Maharashtra along with Gujarat to access the extent of the devastation, but bad weather forced him to cancel the trip.

“The PM’s scheduled plan was to conduct aerial survey of both Maharashtra and Gujarat. But after reports from the weather bureau, he was urged not to fly over Maharashtra,” Patil told mediapersons, adding that the trip was cancelled due to security reasons.

“The politics over PM’s visit to Gujarat is based on lack of information. Those questioning the PM should look for the real reason before jumping to conclusions,” he said. On the PM announcing Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia for the next of kin of all deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured, Patil said: “Proposals have been sought from states hit by cyclone. After receiving proposals and carrying out assessment, the Centre will announce a relief package.”

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, took on Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders for describing his three-day tour of the affected districts as a “photo opportunity”. “It is unfortunate… Even I can retaliate… The CM started his tour today. But it was only for three hours. How many districts did he visit? Why has he skipped Raigad, Satara, Kolhapur and Palghar?” he asked.

Thackeray, meanwhile, stressed on the need to revise norms of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to provide more financial assistance to people affected by natural calamities. “A few months ago, in a meeting with the PM, I had spoken about revising NDRF norms to increase assistance for people. If it happens, we can extend more assistance to the people. Last year, after Cyclone Nisarg caused damage to many areas, we extended relief to the people beyond the existing norms,” he added.

Energy Minister and Congress leader Nitin Raut on Friday visited cyclone-affected areas of Palghar district where the power distribution network has been badly hit. He inspected affected areas and instructed that restoration works are undertaken expeditiously. Mahavitaran officials informed him that power will be restored in the district by Saturday.

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