Tamil Nadu battles massive floods: Modi announces Rs 1,000 crore relief fund
Chennai: Rescue operations in rain battered Chennai and its adjoining districts were on war footing as large parts of the areas continue to remain under water prompting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take stock of the situation personally on Thursday.
Modi held talks with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Governor K Rosaiah and expressed his concern over the situation after having an aerial survey.
PM said, “I have seen the damage and misery caused by the extremely heavy rainfall. I have directed that Rs 1,000 crore be released immediately by the government of India to Tamil Nadu for immediate relief”.
Before heading for Chennai, Modi held a meeting with urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu and defence minister Manohar Parrikar to review the ground situation.
Despite little rain, water level in many areas is rising, mounting fresh fears among the residents, as the death toll reached the 269 mark so far. Nearly 7,400 people have been rescued till Thursday and tons of relief materials were air dropped in last couple of days.
Since, the Met department issued a warning of more rains for the next one week, various agencies including Army, Navy and NDRF intensified their rescue and relief operations across the city.
“There will be no respite from rain but the intensity will decrease after 48 hours,” Laxman Singh Rathore of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
Tamil Nadu CM further requested for additional rescue operations troops to be sent for evacuation processes. “Considering the magnitude of the devastation, we have requested that at least 10 more columns of the army and another 20 teams of National Disaster Management Force (NDRF) with necessary rescue equipment may be immediately sent, especially in view of the fact that more rains have been forecast by the met department,” CM Jayalalithaa said.
Thousands still remain marooned across the state capital forcing private companies and other establishments to shut their offices. Flight operations were completely paralysed and more than 1,200 passengers are stuck in Chennai.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma echoed the sentiments of the harrowed passengers. He said, “We managed to evacuate nearly 1,000 passengers so far”.
Angry passengers as well the residents expressed their ire against the state government for complete failure in dealing with the crises.
Panicked residents and those who are having serious health issues sent SOS messages and took help of media to get immediate assistance from the rescue agencies. A middle aged woman suffering from kidney ailments was personally rescued under the supervision of DG, NDRF, O P Singh.
More than 9,200 students were taken on board sorties to other cities from Tambaram Air Force station in Chennai. The rescue operations were also based out of the Rajali naval base in Arakonam.
Several teams from the Indian Army, IAF, Coast Guard, NDRF and state police were pressed into action with mechanised inflated boats to ferry millions of people marooned by floods, which is claimed to be one of the worst in a century.
The teams are having trained deep divers, swimmers and are equipped with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) netra, Satellite phones, State-of-the-art satellite antenna, deep diving sets, cutters, life jackets, lifebuoys, rope, medicines, food packets, drinking water etc to deal with the disaster.
To ensure normal financial services, the state government issued a directive asking banks to ensure ATMs services through mobile ATMs in affected areas. “It is also directed that all Public Sector General Insurance Companies and LIC may take immediate action and nominate a senior level officer as nodal officer in the state for coordinating and expediting the settlement of claims that are reported in the state”, the statement reads.
Earlier in the day, INS Airavat (Navy’s amphibious carrier), deployed from Vizag with diving teams and boats, had reached Chennai to join rescue efforts. People were seen raising their hands screaming for help from roof tops during air dropping of food, medicines and water pouches by the government agencies.
In many areas, water level reached up to the second storey and as per a statement issued by the Army nearly 18,000 people were evacuated from their respective rooftops.
Meanwhile, RN Choubey, Secretary, Civil Aviation said that Air India’s flight from Hyderabad pressed in service for evacuation purpose. “There will six commercial flight services from Friday, which will be operational from Rajali naval air station,” he added.
“Chennai airport is completely safe and after water recedes, they will inspect the runway and full efforts will be given to resume the flight services at the earliest”, he said.
Health Secretary of Tamil Nadu Radhakrishnan told that waterborne diseases are the major fear now. “However, we are fully geared up for that and already more than 2,000 medical camps are already set up”, he added.
Power supply is yet to restored in many areas.