Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami on Sunday said that the toll from Cyclone Gaja had gone up to 45 as protests erupted in a few districts over the administration’s alleged failure to provide assistance, PTI reported.
The storm damaged 1.17 lakh houses, uprooted at least 1.7 lakh trees and affected more than 88,000 hectares of agricultural land in six districts, said Palaniswami. The state government has announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of those killed in the cyclone-related incidents, Rs 1 lakh for the severely wounded, and Rs 25,000 for those who suffered minor injuries.
Protests were reported from the districts of Pudukottai and Thanjavur even as relief and rehabilitation work continued. In Pudukottai’s Kotthamangalam village, residents protesting the alleged delay in relief operations set fire to five government vehicles and clashed with security personnel, injuring a deputy superintendent of police in the process.
According to an unidentified police official, 60 people were arrested in connection with the violence.
The Pudukottai superintendent of police said at least 500 people were involved in the protest, The News Minute reported. “They were angry because they wanted relief work to be done immediately,” the officer said. “Government officials are doing what they can and officials have even come from other districts. But they are not able to address the issues immediately since the loss is much more than what was expected.”
In Thanjavur’s Peravurani taluk, cyclone-affected residents gathered outside the home of MLA M Govindarajan on Sunday to protest. They claimed they had not been provided drinking water since Gaja made landfall on November 16 and that Govindarajan had not taken any step to solve the problem. In separate demonstrations, people from 15 nearby villages protested against the district administration and ministers for not visiting the affected areas.
However, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam denied reports of officials not visiting the affected areas and said false information was being spread. Panneerselvam took stock of the situation in Nagapattinam on Sunday and said relief work was continuing on a war footing. He claimed that “some people with vested interests” were inciting the affected people to stage protests, The Hindu reported.
Palaniswami said in Salem on Sunday that he would visit the affected coastal areas on Tuesday after attending to other pre-scheduled events. However, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam chief TTV Dhinakaran criticised him for delaying the visit.