Both the houses of the parliament on Wednesday expressed deep concerns over the incessant rains in Tamil Nadu which has claimed over 200 lives. Members cutting across party lines urged the centre to immediately release funds to carry out rescue and relief operations in the state.
The government also assured the house it was taking measures and assisting the state government in rescue and relief operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with some of his senior cabinet colleagues including the Home and Finance Ministers took stock of the situation.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkahiah Naidu told both houses separately, "I want to inform the House that today morning the Prime Minister met the Home Minister, Finance Minister and myself discussed the flood conditions in Tamil Nadu. We exchanged information on the situation." He also said that the Centre has sanctioned Rs 933 crore towards flood relief to the state.
"I have alerted the Civil Aviation Ministry to send food for the relief camps. Since the runway is full of water, we have to send food and other basic amenities to the people stranded at the Chennai," Naidu said adding Navy, army, NDRF have been pressed into action and if there is need for any further support that too will be sent."
In Rajya Sabha, members offered to utilise MPLADS funds for relief and rehabilitation work in the state and some even announced contributions of varying amounts for the cause.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, "We can allow MPLADs funds for relief work in Chennai." Yechury's suggestion was supported by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said members should contribute significant amount like Rs 50 lakh or Rs 1 crore from their MPLADS fund. Tarun Vijay (BJP) announced Rs 50 lakh from his MPLADS fund while Ramdas Athavale (RPI-A) declared donation of his one month's salary of Rs one lakh.
Lok Sabha AIADMK MP T. G. Venkatesh Babu urged the centre to immediately release funds to carry out relief work in flood-affected areas of the state.
“I want the centre to consider this as a national calamity. Thus kindly release adequate funds, which will help Tamil Nadu take timely relief measures,” he said.
Bhartruhari Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal also demanded that the centre should bear the burden of the state disaster relief fund. He praised Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for personally reaching out to people in the time of crisis.
Deputy Spaker of the Lok Sabha M. Thambi Durai urged that Home Minister Rajnath Singh should make a statement on the issue. Singh is likely to make statement in both the houses on Thursday.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the PM and Home Minister should visit the affected areas in Tamil Nadu and suggested in a lighter vein that Rudy, who is "a good pilot", should fly them there.
AIADMK members J Jayavardhan and K Maragatham said Tamil Nadu would require total assistance of about Rs 8,400 crore including funds for rebuilding infrastructure and sought that the devastating flood in the state should be declared a national calamity.
IN Rajya Sabha, initiating the discussion, DMK leader Kanimozhi sought more central support towards relief work. The Tamil Nadu government has estimated flood damages at Rs 8,481 crore, but the centre has sanctioned only over Rs 830 crore.
"It is necessary that Centre releases more funds to tide over the situation," she urged. She asked the Centre to declare the current floods in Chennai as natural disaster and send another central team to assess the damages in the state. She also suggested that an all-party parliamentary delegation should visit the state.
A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) said 14 lakh hectares of land has been inundated due to unprecedented rains and the state government was taking all possible measures to provide relief and rescue operations to people.
D Raja (CPI) questioned what was preventing the Centre from sending another team as he asked the government to declare the rain fury in Tamil Nadu as a "calamity of severe nature" and also said that this will enable MPs from Tamil Nadu as well as other states also to contribute for the relief and rehabilitation there.