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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Cyclone Ockhi: Kerala, Tamil Nadu announce relief measures for affected people

The cyclone has claimed 39 lives and affected 36,000 people in the two southern states.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2017 16:09 IST
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram/Chennai
Residents block a road during a protest demanding the government to reconstruct damaged sea walls and provide rehabilitation for those staying near the seashore after flooding caused by Cyclone Ockhi, in the coastal village of Chellanam, in Kerala.
Residents block a road during a protest demanding the government to reconstruct damaged sea walls and provide rehabilitation for those staying near the seashore after flooding caused by Cyclone Ockhi, in the coastal village of Chellanam, in Kerala.(Reuters Photo)

Kerala and Tamil Nadu on Wednesday announced a slew of relief measures for those affected by Cyclone Ockhi that battered the coastal areas of the southern states last week, flooding large swathes of farmland and ripping apart thousands of homes. (Live updates)

Government officials have said that 33,000 people in Kerala and 2,800 in Tamil Nadu have been affected by the cyclone so far. The Centre said 39 people have lost their lives and another 167 are missing after Cyclone Ockhi engulfed parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Multiple rescue operations are being conducted across Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep where authorities are also trying to locate the missing people. Officials said that 74 fishermen are estimated to be missing in Tamil Nadu and 93 in Kerala.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said a compensation of Rs 20 lakh has already been announced to the family of those who died in the aftermath of the cyclone and Rs 5 lakh to those who have been permanently disabled.

The chief minister said all those engaged in fishing will get Rs 60 per day and their children will be paid Rs 45 a day as allowance in the next one week. Free ration will also be given to the residents of the affected coastal villages for a month, he said.

“All those who lost their fishing craft and gears will be compensated. The children of those killed and those missing will get free education and job training,” Vijayan told reporters after chairing a meeting of the state cabinet.

“Two hundred people will be recruited to the coastal police and preference will be given to the children of fishermen who lost their lives or are missing,” he added.

Vijayan also announced fresh measures to limit damages in the wake of natural calamities like a cyclone. It was decided in the meeting that a registry of its fishermen will be maintained and global positioning system or GPS and other tracking, as well as life-saving gadgets, will be installed on their vessels.

“All the boats that go into the sea should be fitted with GPS facility where two-way communication regarding the weather will be available,” Vijayan said.

Three different committees will be formed to look into the various issues being faced by the fishing community while the Disaster Management Authority will be reconstituted, he added.

Vijayan, who faced criticism from the residents of the coastal belt about his government’s tardy rescue and relief response, tried to deflect the allegations saying there was no advance warning about Cyclone Ockhi.

“On November 30 at 8.30am, the India Meteorological Department intimated about a very deep depression about 170km off Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu) coast. Even at that time, there was no mention of a cyclone. And by that time fishermen had already ventured into the sea,” he told reporters.

“Even the Union ministers, who came here, said there was no fault on the part of the state government and in an hour’s time the defence personnel began rescue work,” he added.

The chief minister said it was one of the biggest ever rescue operations undertaken in Kerala and that it was ongoing and would continue till the last fisherman was brought back. “About 2,600 fishermen, including 1,130 Malayalees, were rescued and as per the records with us, 92 are still missing,” said Vijayan.

“We wish to thank the Centre and all those who helped us when the worst disaster struck. By and large, the media did a good job but some sections of the media have to seriously introspect if they did the right job,” added Vijayan.

He said he will request the Centre to declare this as a national disaster and ask for a special package to mitigate the loss and destruction that took place.

In Tamil Nadu, the state government said more than 4,000 houses suffered partial or full damage in Kanyakumari district and Rs 41 lakh has been provided to those affected by Cyclone Ockhi so far.

The southern state’s revenue secretary B Chandramohan said in a release that 1,687 houses were damaged completely and 2,814 suffered partial damage. The assessment of the damaged houses was complete in the district, the release said.

The owners of 325 houses that were completely damaged have been given Rs 5,000 in their bank accounts and 1,002 owners of houses that suffered partial damage have been provided Rs 4000, it said.

The process of verifying the bank account details of the rest of the house owners was on and once completed, the relief amount will be deposited within two days after that, it added.

The assessment of the extent of damage to paddy crops, coconut trees, plantain crops, rubber plantation and spices will start from Wednesday by teams comprising officials from the departments of revenue, agriculture and horticulture.

These efforts were being undertaken on ‘war-footing,’ Chandramohan was quoted as saying.