Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday said the toll from Cylone Gaja had increased to 33 and the storm caused a significant amount of destruction in the state, PTI reported. The chief minister claimed that the damage was kept in check because of the evacuation of 82,000 people in advance before the storm made landfall on November 16.
The India Meteorological Department said the cyclone has now turned into a deep depression over the Arabian Sea and is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm in the Lakshadweep Islands.
Twenty men, 11 women and two boys died in cyclone-related incidents, the chief minister said. He said 1,77,500 people have been rehabilitated in over 351 camps and that the state was providing food and medical amenities to them. Palaniswami told reporters in Vanavasi that he will visit the storm-hit areas on Sunday.
He dismissed reports that cyclone-affected people did not have access to food and claimed that food was stocked before the storm hit. The chief minister said he had directed five ministers to monitor relief work.
Meanwhile, the Navy deployed one helicopter and two ships to assist in relief work. Three ships are on standby at Visakhapatnam to assist efforts, the Ministry of Defence said.
Palaniswami said the storm uprooted 30,000 electricity poles and over one lakh trees across the state.
Farmers’ organisations PMK and Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam demanded adequate compensation for the losses incurred in the storm, PTI reported. PMK chief S Ramadoss demanded that the government declare Vedaranyam (Nagapattinam district), Mannargudi (Tiruvarur), and Pattukottai (Thanjavur) disaster-struck regions and implement rehabilitation schemes to assist them. Ramadoss said farmers should be paid Rs 50,000 per damaged coconut tree, in accordance with a land acquisition scheme launched for the Salem-Chennai Expressway.