Sitharaman visits 3 cyclone-hit districts, assures help

Nagapattinam: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday visited Cyclone Gaja-hit areas in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts of Tamilnadu and assured full support by the Centre to the affected people.

She conducted an aerial survey of the badly affected Nagapattinam district and also undertook an on-ground review and walkthrough around Kodiyakkarai, near Vedaranyam, about 300 km from Chennai, interacting with the local people.

Sitharaman, the first union cabinet minister to visit the cyclone-hit areas, reviewed the relief works undertaken by the local authorities, Navy and the Coast Guard at a meeting where the top district officials briefed her about the situation.

“Smt @nsitharaman expresses the deep concern of the central government for all those affected by Cyclone Gaja and assured continuance of full support and relief (by the Centre),” an official tweet said.

Addressing reporters and villagers, Sitharaman said permission for construction of houses, under the Prime Minister’s scheme, would be granted immediately to the needy people. Earlier, on arrival at the IAF air station at Kodiakarai, she held a meeting with state Ministers R B Udhayakumar, S P Velumani, and P Thangamani and senior officials, who received her.

The Defence Minister was accompanied by Flag Officer Commanding Tamilnadu and Puducherry Naval Area Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar among others. A defence statement said the minister reviewed the relief operations by the Navy through air, road and sea at the worst-hit village of Arucottuthurai in Nagapattinam district.

Sitharaman later visited neighbouring Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts, which are among the 12 districts hit by the 16 November cyclone that claimed 63 lives and left a huge trail of destruction damaging houses, crops, disrupting electricity supply and uprooting lakhs of trees.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami had last week met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum seeking a central assistance of around Rs 15,000 crore with an immediate relief of Rs 1,500 crore toward the relief and rehabilitation works.