Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on Thursday that the flood situation in Tamil Nadu was “alarming.” Both Houses discussed the situation, and Mr. Singh gave an extensive reply on the Centre’s rescue and relief efforts.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Chennai has become an island as it has been cut off from all national and State highways,” he said. “I share the concern of members expressed in the discussion in both Houses, that the city and the State were witnessing an unprecedented emergency-like situation with rainfall breaking a century’s record unceasingly lashing the city.”
He gave some perspective to the deluge in Chennai in his address. He said 269 people had died in the floods in Tamil Nadu, 54 in Andhra Pradesh and two in Puducherry.
Detailing the help being provided by the government for the rescue and relief operation, Mr. Singh said 12 boats of the Navy, along with 155 personnel, had been deployed. He said that the Indian Air Force was also helping in relief efforts by deploying 14 teams of the NDRF. While the State government had sought Rs. 8,481 crore, the Centre had provided Rs. 940.92 crore.
He said further assistance would be given after the receipt of the report of the Central team expected this week.
National highways to be toll-free till December 11
The Centre has decided to suspend toll collections across all National highways in Tamil Nadu till December 11, the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a statement late on Thursday. Twenty-five National highways pass through the State.
“In view of the flood situation caused by the unprecedented rain in the State, Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has ordered suspension of toll collection on all National Highways in the State till December 11, 2015,” a statement said.
The Ministry’s order came into force with immediate effect and has been issued to ease the rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations being undertaken by various Central and State agencies in the flood-affected areas in the city.
Banks, insurers asked to rush help
With bank branches and most ATMs inaccessible for the flood-affected in and around Chennai, the government has asked banks to arrange for mobile ATMs mounted on boats and dispatch their employees with laptops to facilitate withdrawals in the flooded localities. The Finance Ministry has asked public sector general insurers and the LIC to nominate a senior officer to expedite the processing of claims.
Managing Editor G. Ananthakrishnan adds…
The unprecedented floods in Chennai confirm that there is no more time left, and the world must take concrete and urgent action against climate disruption, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday. France was in solidarity with all those affected by the tragedy, Mr. Fabius, who holds the presidency of CoP21 climate change conference, said.