NEW DELHI: A Parliamentary panel on Home Affairs on Friday recommended the Centre to “immediately” announce a special relief and rehabilitation package for Tamil Nadu, which suffered extensive damage to social and physical infrastructure because of the floods last year. The committee has recommended that the package should be in “consonance” with the demand of the State.
It said that if the damage caused to Chennai and other parts of the State are to be calculated properly, it could “run into thousands of crore”. According to the Home Ministry, the demand from the State government was `25,912.46 crore for relief, rehabilitation and restoration till December 2015. It was sanctioned only `2,195 crore.
The panel is headed by P Bhattacharya, Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal and comprises 31 members from both the Houses. They include V Maitreyan (AIADMK), Subramanian Swamy (BJP), D Raja (CPI) among others. The committee said that over 3.59 lakh huts were damaged since November 23, 2013. Besides, 26.90 lakh houses were submerged in Chennai, Cuddalore, Thiruvallur and other districts of the State.
The panel suggested the State government to check mafia involved in illegal construction, holding them responsible for usurping of waterbodies for real estate business as encroachment of riverbed played a major role in flooding of Chennai. “The flood channels and riverbed should be cleared as soon as possible by removing unauthorised constructions,” it recommended.
It demanded preparing a calamity map of all important cities by developing ‘standard vulnerability indices’ so as to minimise loss of life, public and private property and vital installations. In this regard it hauled up the Home Secretary, who while deposing before the panel had argued that the damage was huge because the rainfall was unprecedented and was more than the average of past 100 years.
Both the Centre as well as the State governments should remain vigilant to tackle the situation. The Home Affairs Ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority should “keep their preparedness at optimum level,” the panel strongly recommended.