Chennai, Nov 21 (IANS) Looking at the ground situation in the flood-hit districts of Tamil Nadu, it was clear that the municipal administrations were not only unprepared to handle the condition but also found lacking in many aspects, union minister Pon Radhakrishnan said on Saturday.
Rain in the four districts of Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Cuddalore in the past 10 days has claimed around 150 lives though no consolidated official figures are available.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed a committee consisting of union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Radhakrishnan, union minister of state for road transport, highways and shipping, to visit the flood-hit areas and submit a report to the party high command.
Radhakrishnan visited Cuddalore district on Saturday while Sitharaman visited Chennai and Kanchipuram districts.
“While it cannot be disputed that heavy rains lashed some districts in Tamil Nadu, it was clear that the municipal administration in those districts have failed in managing the situation,” Radhakrishnan said.
He said water-logging was still there in many areas for over a week and it was not known why the Chennai corporation or other municipal administrations have not risen to meet the situation.
He said the Tamil Nadu government has not learned any lesson from the Thane cyclone that hit Cuddalore in 2011.
Radhakrishnan said there was an apparent oversight by the district administration.
“In Cuddalore, I was told Rs.5,000 was paid as compensation by the administration to all irrespective of whether the person suffered a loss or not. Hence people are now demanding proper relief,” he said.
He said it will be better if cash is credited directly to the beneficiaries account.
“It is also not known how the administration had allowed construction on water bodies,” he said.
Sitharaman said that “in Kanchipuram district, roads have been laid covering a waterway. Local people have now realised the existence of a waterway when the area was dug up to drain the stagnant water.”
She also wondered whether the successive governments in the state had the practice of allowing construction on waterbodies and then regularising the same.
Questioned about the disbursal of interim relief by the central government instead of waiting for the state government to submit a report, Sitharaman said funds are already available with the National Disaster Response Force which could be utilised.
She said the Tamil Nadu chief secretary had told the union home secretary that the state government was managing the rescue and relief operations and hence there was no need for the central government to send a team.
The Indian Navy, Coast Guard and others were involved in rescue and relief operations in the flood-hit areas, she said.
Sitharaman said floods were not new to her.
During her college days, she had seen heavy floods in the Cauvery river in Trichi in Tamil Nadu and she and her college mates at Seethaalakshmi Ramaswamy College helped in rescue efforts.