The death toll in Cyclone Gaja has mounted to 45, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said on Sunday, while appealing to all the political parties to take part in the rescue operations. The CM’s appeal came even as Opposition leaders criticised the government’s apathy in delivering relief materials like food, drinking water and other material to the cyclone-affected areas.
“In villages, lots of trees and standing crops have been damaged, affecting the livelihood of farmers. The extent of damage is being evaluated. Till now, 45 people have lost their lives due to the cyclone,” Palaniswami said.
He said the relief activities across Tamil Nadu were going on a war footing and the officials are surveying the areas badly affected by the cyclone to assess the quantum of losses incurred there. He added that state ministers have been deployed in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, and Pudukottai to monitor the relief activities being carried out there.
Palaniswami pegged the loss of livestock at 735, adding that 88,102 hectare of crop and 39,938 electricity poles were damaged in the cyclone, besides 117,624 houses.
Cyclone Gaja had hit Tamil Nadu Friday and ripped through Nagapattinam, uprooting trees and snapping power lines in coastal districts. Nearly 2.5 lakh people were rescued and sheltered in 483 relief centres in six districts. Also, 1,014 mobile medical vans have been set up across the state. CM Palaniswami has announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund for the families of the deceased. Severely injured would be provided with Rs 1 lakh each while those with minor ones would get Rs 25,000 compensation.
Palaniswami said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already been apprised of the damage caused by the cyclone.
“Currently, we are facing challenges in removing uprooted trees and replacing the damaged electricity poles,” he said.
On being asked whether the state would seek Army’s assistance in the relief operation, he said officials and ministers have already been directed to take stock of the affected places by visiting them. “If required we will seek assistance from the Centre,” he added.
(With inputs from PTI)