'Tsunami disaster a national tragedy'
Describing the tidal wave disaster as a national tragedy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday that the country had to find ways and means to come to the rescue of the affected states.
"The Centre recognises this as a national tragedy. The whole country has to find ways and means to come to the rescue of the affected," he told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with DMK President M Karunanidhi at his Gopalpuram residence in Chennai.
Pointing out that the Centre had released Rs 500 crore as relief, Singh said, of this Rs 250 crore had been earmarked for Tamil Nadu, Rs 100 crore each for Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and Rs 50 crore for Pondicherry.
Besides, Rs one lakh each had been set aside from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who had lost their life, he said and added that now the Centre was concentrating on rehabilitation of the affected persons.
Assuring that the Centre would do its best for those hit by the tidal waves, he said 90 per cent of the affected people were fishermen and there was an urgent need to assist them by providing boats, nets and houses.
Singh was accompanied by Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran and Congress leaders GK Vasan and SR Balasubramaniam.
Karunanidhi handed over to Singh cheques and DDs for Rs 20 lakh towards the Prime Minister's Relief fund collected from sitting and former MPs and MLAs and functionaries of the DMK.