Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s announcement of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 in financial assistance for those whose homes have been hit by the state’s devastating floods has sparked anger among locals, with many terming it an “insult”.
The issue is threatening to snowball into a major political controversy ahead of next year’s assembly election with opposition parties including the DMK trying to stoke the people’s disappointment to unseat the AIAIDMK government.
Life was limping back to normalcy in Chennai and surrounding areas on Tuesday with rain abating, as focus shifted to relief measures and prevention of epidemics amid mounds of muck and stagnant water.
But people whose dwellings and belongings were wrecked by the deluge expressed their disappointment with the state government’s promised compensation, saying it was highly inadequate.
“It is better if the government gives nothing rather than insult us this way,” Suthivel Armugam, a 45-year-old farmer from Cuddalore district, told a television channel.
The government should pay a compensation of Rs 25,000 per acre to farmers if it is serious about taking care of them, he said.
The discontent among the people has been heightened by the fact that many have seen relief coming in from NGOs and individual donors rather than any government agency.
Ramani is a homemaker from Chennai’s Ekkaduthangal area where a clutch of TV channels have their offices which were also inundated, forcing them to suspend telecast for three days.
“The water started coming in and within half an hour our entire house was flooded and belongings submerged,” she said. “There was no time for us to react. We just tried to get out. And today, there is nothing at all.”
Anger spilled out after the chief minister on Monday announced financial assistance of Rs 10,000 for those who lost their huts, allocation of 10,000 tenements and an aid of Rs 5,000 for families hit by the deluge.
“The compensation is very meagre. The government should think of the rise in prices and revise the compensation. That would be helpful. Rs 5,000 will not get anything, especially after we have lost all our belongings,” said Chennai resident Nagalaksmi. “All our identification cards are gone and if any one creates a problem, we have nothing to show.”
DMK treasurer and former deputy chief minister MK Stalin criticised the compensation announced while visiting flood-battered parts of Thiruvarur district on Tuesday and said the government should be more realistic.
“This amount would not be of much help to the people,” he said.