Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought about Rs 15,000 crore as central assistance towards relief and rehabilitation activities in cyclone Gaja-hit districts of the state.
The Prime Minister, responding to his request, later deputed a central team to assess the cyclone damage and it would arrive in Chennai tomorrow, Palaniswami said.
The chief Minister, who met Modi a week after the cyclone crossed the state coast leaving a trail of destruction in over 10 southern districts, put the toll at 63.
"I have submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister detailing the extent of the damage caused by the cyclone," he told reporters in New Delhi, adding the state has sought about Rs
Palaniswami said he urged the Prime Minister for an immediate release of about Rs 1,500 crore towards 'temporary renovation' activities.
The central team will be on a three-day visit to the affected areas and its itinerary will be decided on its arrival in Chennai on Friday, he added.
To a question on state Governor Banwarilal Purohit touring the affected districts, Palaniswami said the common objective of all was to ensure people got relief.
"It will benefit the people if they get it through the Governor," he said.
According to the abstract of the memorandum, the state government has sought sum of Rs 14,910 crore towards permanent renovation activities, including in the power sector whose infrastructure has been badly hit by the cyclone.
Over one lakh electric poles had been uprooted and a significant number of power sub-stations damaged resulting in disruption of electricity supply in several areas.
The cyclone crossed the state coast early on November 16 between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam, about 300 km from Chennai, and later caused damage in several other districts as it moved over interior Tamil Nadu.
The state government has already released Rs 1,000 crore for immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas.
Palaniswami said a total of 3.41 lakh houses were damaged, while 1.04 lakh heads of cattle and birds perished in the cyclone.
Noting that as many as 11.32 lakh trees had been uprooted, he said 7.27 lakh of them have been cleared.
Around 3.78 lakh people were lodged in 556 relief camps, even as relief and renovation work was on, he said.
Over 1.03 lakh electric poles were either uprooted or mangled and 40 per cent of them have been repaired.
Supply of electricity and drinking water was being gradually restored, he added.
Recalling the compensation provided to families of deceased (Rs 10 lakh each), he said it was more than what the earlier Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government had given during cyclones in 2008 and 2010. The DMK had given Rs 2 lakh, he claimed.
Asked why he had not visited the affected areas by road, Palaniswami shot back, saying DMK president and Leader of the Opposition in the assembly M K Stalin could not cover much ground when they travelled by road to the affected parts.
He had taken a helicopter from Tiruchirappalli to Pudukottai and Thanjavur districts on Tuesday to visit the affected parts but could not land at Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur due to inclement weather following which he cut short his tour.
He had announced that he would visit the districts on a later date.
The chief minister said he opted for a helicopter not to merely visit the affected area but to get a detailed knowledge of the extent of the damage caused by the cyclone.
Pictures clicked then have been submitted to the prime minister, he said.
The chief minister said Stalin visited 'just three places and returned halfway' but only a detailed visit could enable him work out compensation.
Due to the government's precautionary measures like early evacuation of people, the loss of lives had been minimised, he said.
Further, government officials were quick to launch relief activities soon after the cyclone crossed the coast, he added.
Palaniswami also said All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MPs, his cabinet colleagues and the party MLAs will contribute their one month salary towards relief activities.
The AIADMK has a 37 Lok Sabha MPs and 13 in Rajya Sabha. Its strength in the 234-member assembly is 116.