CHENNAI: Despite the State government saying that it is pulling out all stops to restore normalcy in cyclone-hit areas in Kanniyakumari district, activists blame the lack of an effective disaster management and mitigation plan and shoddy work compounding people’s miseries.A large number of areas are still groping in the dark without power supply for more than six days now. Even the entire area of the district headquarters couldn’t get back electricity.
“I am a resident of Nagercoil town. We have been plunged into darkness without power supply for over six days now,” MG Devasahayam, a retired IAS officer, told Express on Monday. He added, “People are not able to cook. Many have to run to hotels wherever they are opened. But the eateries have become extortion points.”
Alleging official apathy in supplying food and water to the affected, the ex-bureaucrat noted that in many places, only local volunteers are cooking food to feed their people still sunk in tears and grief.
Devasahayam blamed the lack of an effective plan in place for mitigating the woes of the people who bore the brunt of the havoc wrought by the cyclone.
“They are not working by a well thought out plan to carry out relief operations. They are doing the works in a normal way and not rising to the occasion. The works are shoddy. What they should have done is take up the relief works on a war-footing in its real sense,” he fumed.Noting that 24x7 news channels are only beaming sound bites of officials and ministers trying to paint a rosy picture of the rescue and relief operations, Devasahayam claimed the district administration lacked the vibrancy and velocity to deal with a disaster of such magnitude.
Over 1 lakh rubber trees uprooted, say locals
The cyclone has massively damaged plantation crops in Kanniyakumari district with locals claiming that over a lakh rubber trees were uprooted in the gusty winds.“The rubber trees grown in plantations belonging to the government, private firms and local farmers have suffered huge damage. Not less than one lakh trees have been uprooted, besides damaging tribal habitations,” said M Valsakumar, general secretary of Kanniyakumari District Estate Workers Union.
Saying that Ockhi has ravaged plantations in Keeriparai, Baraliyar, Kalitheertham and Manalodai, he rued that no top official had visited the workers to assuage their feelings.“At least 20,000 plantation workers are now rendered jobless. It is not easy for them to find alternative employment opportunities. So, the government should take a serious view of the heavy damage and find ways and means to compensate the loss,” Valsakumar appealed.
Will initiate steps to compensate damages: Revenue minister
When queried, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management R B Udhayakumar assured of necessary steps to compensate the damage and destruction inflicted by Cyclone Ockhi
“The Chief Minister reviewed the situation on Monday at a high-level meeting. The officials of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forest and Revenue departments have been directed to assess the damage caused by Ockhi. Subsequently, compensation will be given to all those affected,” he told Express
Udhayakumar claimed that relief operations were being carried out without any slackness to bring back normalcy to Kanniyakumari