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'Need to coordinate relief work'
January 04, 2005 17:10 IST
Transcript of the chat with Salil Kumar who visited the tsunami-hit city of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, and the Union Territory of Pondicherry
Salil Kumar : hi, i am salil kumar and i am ready to take your questions
rkc : any one know the status of velankanni church
Salil Kumar : rkc, in velankanni church hundreds of pilgrims are feared to have been killed. on december 26, the tamil mass in the shrine was over and the malayalam mass had begun. hundreds of malayalis were attending mass when the waves struck. for more details you will have to chat with our correspondent George Iype, who has visited the site
tans : is there any chance that it will hit once again ?
Salil Kumar : these are forces of nature and predicting when the next one will hit is very difficult. the best thing is to be prepared for the next time
vivek : any of you in andamans?
Salil Kumar : vivek, our correspondent sheela bhatt was in the Andamans.
Pradeep : How is the relief work going?
Salil Kumar : pradeep, the relief work is picking up pace. innumerable organisations and charities are pouring in help. the key thing is to streamline the whole process so that aid reaches everyone
tanmoy-darjeeling : hello salil. can u brief us the present conditions in andaman specially the i want to know about the tribes.
Salil Kumar : tanmoy-darjeeling, andaman and nicobar islands are in bad shape. at least two islands in the cluster are 60% submerged. thousands are dead and many thousands are missing. as for the tribes they are all safe
preetigoel : Hi Salil ! Are you currently in Chennai / Pondicherry ?
Salil Kumar : i am back in mumbai
Pradeep : Hi Salil, are u personally satisfied with the relief work or is there anything lacking?
Salil Kumar : Pradeep, i am satisfied with the amount of aid coming in. not satisfied with the way it is being distributed. the aid agencies can coordinate a lot better among themselves and with the governments concerned
preetigoel : Salil, how is the situation different in Chennai and Pondicherry in comparison to Nicobar and Kanyakumari ?
Salil Kumar : preetigoel, the situation is pretty different. To take pondicherry first: the relief work there is going on pretty well and the main reason for that is this: it is a very small geographical area compared to, say, tamil nadu. so it makes it pretty easy for the administration to handle the situation. and the waves have not disrupted roads and communications in anyway. the road from chennai is pretty smooth even now. Also, compared to tamil nadu and andamans, pondicherry has suffered less -- around 70 deaths in the university area and around 400 or so in karaikal. One crucial thing is that the waves spread destruction only where there was no bulwark. In case of the town, there are a lot of boulders on the beach and they took a lot of the impact. In the other places, the huts were right on the beach and so the waves just washed them away
preetigoel : yes salil, you are right about andamans. i completely agree with you. snapped communication played a major role in the delay.
Salil Kumar : also, let us not forget that it took us a long time to gauge the extent of disaster in andamans because of the communication problem
venkat : is the death toll under reported?
Salil Kumar : venkat, the toll is based on the number of bodies that have been found. there are thousands of people still missing. the true number we will never be able to know
kumart : how are the people in chennai?
Salil Kumar : kumart, the people in chennai are pretty fine. life is normal and if you walk on the streets you will hardly be able to realise that many people have been killed. you get the feeling that something is wrong only in places where people have died. apart from that the city is pretty fine
Shilpi : de report abt mata amritanandhamayi donation.. how will this aid be distributed.. and who supervises it ??
Salil Kumar : Shilpi, i think it is the mata amritanandamayi mutt that will supervise the whole thing.
Pradeep : Salil, what do you think is the best way for us to make a difference in the life of the affected people? This is the time for all of us to unite and help for the greater cause of humanity..
Salil Kumar : Pradeep, this is a question that you should ask yourself
prashanthcecil : hi salil,i am from trichy..i can see a lot of relief supplies flowing through trichy.. how long do u think will it take the fishing industry to be back to normal in nagapattinam?
Salil Kumar : prashanthcecil, it will be a long time before the fishing industry gets back to normal. right now they are surviving on food and clothes given by aid agencies. their huts, boats, fishing nets, utensils are all gone and it will take at least a couple of months for the rehabilitation process to begin. part from that there is the psychological factor. those fishermen who can do something else may quit fishing. but those who have no option will have to get back into the sea. and what about the families who have lost their breadwinner? the government will have to take care of widows and children.
Shilpi : relief is a long term effort. do de relief agencies stick around to persist with de work .. or is de onus on de govt.??
Salil Kumar : shilpi, in case you are chattin from the united states and want to donate, do check this link. it contains the names or organisations that are accepting donations and the contact numbers http://in.rediff.com/news/2004/dec/27tsunami8.htm
arshad : what is tsunami actuly means
Salil Kumar : arshad, tsunami is a very large ocean wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption.
Sanjay : What about ships that were sailing in the middle of the ocean at that time did they get affected at all.
Salil Kumar : Sanjay, the ships did not feel a thing. in fact, many fishermen who were out in the sea did not feel a thing. the waves do not reach such gigntic proportion in deep sea. they travel fast and when they reach shallow waters the walls are formed
aks : hi the first affected was nicobar and it took time to reach south india, but no precautionary measures taken
Salil Kumar : aks, indians were clueless about tsunamis till 8 days ago. so i doubt if much could have been done. anyway, there is no point in thinking what could have been. best to see how best to help
praveen : Hi Salil, do you think it was proper on Govt of India's part not to take any aid or help from outside.
Salil Kumar : praveen, why take aid for the sake of taking aid? we have enough aid. the key is in making sure that it reaches on time in an orderly and streamlined fashion
preetigoel : Salil, you said aid distribution could have been better. UN says they were not invited by the Government. Do you think if UN was there to aid relief operations then perhaps distribution of relief aid might have been better? UN could have co-ordinated the whole exercise?
Salil Kumar : preetigoel, I doubt if UN could have done a lot more faster. if anything, india has been an active member in UN operations and it has experience. too many cooks spoil the cake
Shilpi : relief is a long term effort. do de relief agencies stick around to persist with de work .. or is de onus on de govt.??
Salil Kumar : Shilpi, the relief agencies will stick around as long as they can. most of them have a limited amount of funds. that said, the onus is on both the government and relief agencies to work together and help the people. to expect the government to be everything is not correct
dss : Hi Salil, whats the status on the reports that epidemics may create havoc in the area affected?
Salil Kumar : dss, as of now there are no reports of widespread -- and widespread is the key word here -- of epidemics. there may be instances of people falling sick but the government is doing its best. people are being vaccinates, medical facilities are being given, chlorine tablets are being distributed ... cross your fingers
Shilpi : i agree with preetigoel.. being from orissa i have seen de haphazard relief efforts during the orissa super cyclone.. i think there is a need of a nodal agency to co ordinate de efforts.. UN shud be invited/allowed to do so.
Salil Kumar : we should have a nodal agency, yes, but that need not be the UN. the UN hardly knows india as well as the indian government does. the government should, in my view, create and autonomous organisation that will take charge in such situations. All the NGOs in the country that want to volunteer during such times can register with that agency. In times of crisis, the nodal agency can communicate with all the ngos in the area and relief work can start immediately. the government already has a database of ngos in the country. of course, this is a rough idea. i am sure you guys can come up with many more polished ones
haricurry : I want to contribute but not sure if my contribution goes to the areas affected in India. Can you tell me the sources that take donations specifically targeted for regions in India
Salil Kumar : haricurry, for tamil nadu please send to Joint Commissioner (Relief) A Chatterjee, Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation, Virugambakkam, Chennai, not sure about the other states. i guess you will have to do some r&d on the web. many sites have come up. if you are from the united states do check this rediff.com link. it has useful info http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/03tsunami4.htm
arshad : what will be the long term effects of tsunami on earth or oceans?
Salil Kumar : hmmm, not sure, arshad. better put this question to an expert
Kunal : hi Salil can you tell which thing will hep the victims the best money or medicines or clother or anything else
Salil Kumar : Kunal, since you are not on the site to find out what the people need, i suggest you send money. let the organisation or the government decide what to do with it -- build houses, buy medicines, food, whatever. Also, most people are giving cooked food. one victim in Pondicherry was telling me that he got food at least 10 times a day. And by evening, he was absolutely stuffed. The funny thing is the guy was not sure if he would get food to eat the next day. The need to coordinate efforts is the most important
KARAN : Is there enough drinking water available for all the people?
Salil Kumar : a lot of wells are full of seawater right now. So yes, drinking water is a major issue.
preetigoel : Does Chennai and Pondicherry also have dead bodies strewn around like andamans ?
Salil Kumar : no, not really. andaman is a severe case. in chennai and pondicherry the bodies were retrieved more or less in a day. but in andaman it took us two days to realise the scale of tragedy
Kunal : salil kumar, so which is the best organisation to send money, i want to make sure that it reaches the needy only
Salil Kumar : kunal, you will have to find out for yourself. frankly, you will never be able to find out if your money has gone where it is supposed to go.just look around, talk to a few people and organisations, and if you think you can trust someone, donate.and when you donate don't fret whether it has reached the victims. that is of no use. just do your homework properly and pray for the best.the best thing to do is, of course, is to fly down to the affected areas and give aid yourself to some organisation and then travel with them
Pradeep : Did the hoax alarm of a repeat of tsunami hamper the relief work??
Salil Kumar : it does, pradeep. but look at it this way. when it comes to raising alarms, it is a tough dilemma for most people. if you raise an alarm and nothing happens everyone abuses you. and if you raise an alarm and something does happen, you give a chance to a lot of people to escape. in fact, i would say that it is better to raise an alarm. the worst that will happen is that relief work will be hampered for some time and people will panic. but if you don't say anything, there is also the chance of a lot of people losing their lives
www65 : What will happen to the orphan children now?
Salil Kumar : www65, dunno about the other states and union territories but the tamil nadu government has decided to adopt all children who lost their parents. New homes to shelter at least 100 children in each would be opened in Nagapattinam, Kanyakumari and Cuddalore, in addition to the government-run homes, which are already functioning, according to CM Jayalalithaa.
preetigoel : Salil could we have your mail ID please ?
Salil Kumar : preetigoel, in case you want to write in to us, please use the feeback button. and in case you want to write to someone specific, please mention that person's name in your mail. it will reach him/her
Knan : what do you think is the best way to help -- ?
Salil Kumar : knan, send in money
Nandini : Are there imminent possibilities of cholera and other diseases? If so, is the govt taking proper measure to avert them?
Salil Kumar : Nandini, yes, there is always the dnager of diseases. the government is doing its best.
Kunal : salail kumar, what you say about prime minister relief funds? is it safe?
Salil Kumar : Kunal, yes, the pm's relief fund is safe, the safest, if you ask me. plus you get tax rebate also
TemperamentalMale : My question is......is there any fool-proof measure that an safeguard people against the onslaught of Tsunami in future? If yes, would India be able to use it effectively? If No, then what best can be done? Also, are we really desperate before the natural calamaities?
Salil Kumar : there are tsunami warning centres in the Pacific Ocean region. We can also have something like that
Kunal : thanks a lot salil kumar, and wht about times of india and ndtv relief funds?
Salil Kumar : kunal, you will have to get in touch with them and talk to them -- ndtv and timesofindia -- that is. But my hunch is that they also will collect money and send it to the chief minister's relief fund or the prime minister's relief fund in the end. It is not like they will collect money, purchase aid, and distribute it themselves
beebug : Hi, With so many kids ending up losing parents to the ghastly tsunami, is there any possibility to have some of the people who lost their children adopt some of these orphans ? Just a thought.
Salil Kumar : beebug, yes, that option is always there. but adopting a kid is not as easy as it sounds. you have to go through a lot of screening and there are a lot of criteria involved
vasant : I want to donate money to any need family. Will you be able to provide me profile of family and contact details?
Salil Kumar : vasant, sorry i cannot tell you that. But check out these too links. You will get an idea http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/03tsunami4.htm & http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/dec/30franc.htm
manirock : what u thing about the US contribution to the relief fund? i am in new york an people are really touched by the whole event here. but there are some rumor that the rich nation is not doing anything. i find it hard to digest?
Salil Kumar : manirock, the us's initial contribution was pathetic to say that least. now bush has come up with some 350 million dollars or something. in any case, india has refused foreign aid. so i guess that money will go to Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar ...
TemperamentalMale : Was the IMD sleeping when the killer waves were preparing to wreak havoc readying to engulf one and half lac people? It was reported that the waves took more than 2 hours to reach the shores of South Asia. Didn't we have even the slightest inkling of the danger looming ahead? Can the Meteorological Dept. of India be held responsible partly/fully for that? or we had never imagined even in our wildest dreams that such waves can strike the shores of India?
Salil Kumar : the IMD has nothing, or very little, to do with this.
Shweta : Salil, we had people discussing about subjects like handling of such natural calamities as a PG specialization. what do you think about that. Will that help ????????
Salil Kumar : hmmm, not necessarily. you could always go into humanities and take up social work. or social psychiatry, get involved in NGOs, etc. there are many ways to get there. as for the specific course that you are talking about i am sure something like that will be there
gg : Any idea on the toll of the tribes in Andaman and Nicobars. I have heard that few of them could face extinction
Salil Kumar : the tribes are safe, they are not facing extinction
TemperamentalMale : Then which Dept. is responsible to monitor the oceanic churns?None?
Salil Kumar : we have the Department of Ocean Development.
cherla : Is there any news of the richest temple on the earth (Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam) getting involved in the relief operations?
Salil Kumar : as of now, no. but i may be wrong
manirock : well i work for a company here. i had posted an email world wide to all oue employee. an was able to collect $5000 in a day. dont u thing those kind of contribution as valuable. we have permission to collect money at all the walmart through out the united state. which is gonna happen this weekend. then why US is give negative publicity in indian newpaper. hey no offense i am an indian in true sense but feel the honest of people out here is questioned every time. honest human life is really valued an i guess bush has no idea about the destruction the day he announced $35 million. i would love to see an article from u guys about the world wide contribution in future? and hey the biggest philanthropist of the world resides in the united states.
Salil Kumar : hmmm, won't debate that, manirock. highly subjective. don't want to get involved in an argument on whether bush is good or bad or whether the united states is great or not. let us leave that :-)
mukund2k : Salil how is pondicherry now
Salil Kumar : pondicherry is better. relief work is going on. the next stage is rehabilitation. since it is a small place, coordination is better there. of course, it will still be some time before the fishermen can lead a normal life again
anandr : Is there an online link to donate money to the TN CM relief fund? I only saw a postal address on the website. It would be easy if we can donate online using a credit card
Salil Kumar : sorry, anand, couldn't find a link on that. but you could send it by post too, no? here is the address: The contribution may kindly be sent either by cash or cheque or Demand Draft drawn in favour of "CHIEF MINISTER'S PUBLIC RELIEF FUND" addressed to:
The Joint Secretary to Government and Treasurer,
Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund,
kkris : one thing that can do with more reporting and coverage is how the indian military is helping out and how best to assist them.
Salil Kumar : yes, definitely
mukund2k : Salil how is the place around in west of indian coast
Salil Kumar : cool
jose : I am not sure if this was asked earlier .What exactly is the death toll and are the figures in the media now anywhere near accuracy
Salil Kumar : around 9400 in india. the media is just saying what the government is telling them. so no point blaming the media. but the fact is no one will ever know the exact number of those killed
beebug : Thanks for the answer Salil. I understand that there are bunch of logistical issues for adoptions and stuff, but the society as a whole should take it upon itself to rehabilitate the disrupted budding lives of the innocent kids. Are there any measures taken by local Govt. to provide adeaquate food, clothing and most important, security to the kids ? Is there any possibility of setting up somekind of govt. funds to help the kids till they grow up - perhaps, this could be an incentive for people to take care of the kids ?
Salil Kumar : the tamil nadu government is going to adopt the orphans. check out this link http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/01tn2.htm
deepayan : can anybody tell me the condition of the air base at kar nikobar
Salil Kumar : yes, it is not there anymore
Salil Kumar : ladies and gentlemen, if there are no more questions i would like to take your leave. but before going, i would urge all of you to visit the link given below. it contains the names of some organisations that are accepting donations. in case you want to send some money, get in touch with them. needless to say, they are not affiliated to rediff.com in anyway, nor are we trying to endorse them. exercise sound judgement, choose an organisation carefully and send in your money. thanks for chatting, and the link is: http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/dec/30tn3.htm
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