India

Cyclone toll 45; villagers hold protests over tardy relief operations

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • In Nagappattinam and Tiruvarur, angry villagers resorted to road blockades, isolating several cyclone-hit areas from the district headquarters

  • Authorities said official vehicles were not being permitted to supply even essential commodities to badly affected localities like Kodiyakkarai near Vedaranyam and Muthupettai near Thiruthuraipoondi

SALEM: The death toll in cyclone Gaja rose to 45 on Sunday even as the state machinery battles to bring back normalcy in cyclone-hit areas, many of which are witnessing unrest by residents complaining about tardy government response.

In Nagappattinam and Tiruvarur, angry villagers resorted to road blockades, isolating several cyclone-hit areas from the district headquarters. Authorities said official vehicles were not being permitted to supply even essential commodities to badly affected localities like Kodiyakkarai near Vedaranyam and Muthupettai near Thiruthuraipoondi.

At Kothamangalam, near Alangudi in Pudukottai district, angry villagers on Sunday set ablaze five government vehicles, alleging the government was not taking proper post-disaster management measures. Around 50 protesters were arrested.

Unfazed by criticism from political parties for choosing to stay put in Salem for the past four days inaugurating buildings and bridges despite cyclone Gaja wreaking havoc in Nagapattinam and adjoining coastal areas, Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami told reporters that he will visit cyclone affected districts only on Tuesday as he has to finish prescheduled events. Palaniswami said more than 735 livestock too were killed in the cyclone. Crops in 88,102 hectares, mostly paddy, coconut and banana, were extensively damaged, he said. The chief minister said a detailed report on crop damage has been commissioned and that would be sent to the Centre. The cyclone has damaged more than 1.17 lakh houses, most of them huts in the coastal districts. Due compensation will be given them also, he said. “Family members of the dead will be given Rs 10 lakh as compensation while those who suffered heavy injuries will be given Rs 1 lakh and those with minor injuries Rs 25,000,’’ he said.