Thanjavur/Nagapattinam: Anger against the state government prevailed across the Cauvery delta region that is recovering from the havoc caused by the severe cyclonic storm Gaja.
The cyclone preparedness of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government received praise from all quarters, including from its arch-rival the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), but tardy relief and rehabilitation work has made the people furious.
Cyclone Gaja hit the coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the early hours of Friday, gusting with the wind speed of 120 kmph and causing widespread devastation.
According to the official estimates, at least 46 people were killed and more than 251,600 people have been evacuated to over 500 relief camps.
Several villages in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Pudukkottai are up in arms against the government. People continue to block roads. “If they (politicians) can visit all villages and every single street during election time, what stops them from visiting us now," said A. Gandhimathi, who, along with fellow villagers from Aladikkumulai in Pattukottai taluk in Thanjavur district, had blocked roads on Monday demanding speedy relief.
“The lack of local body representatives in the state for two years has made relief work difficult," said S. Chandra in Orathanadu taluk of Thanjavur. The state has not conducted local body polls after the term of the elected representatives ended in 2016.
Minister S.P. Velumani, who is inspecting relief work in Nagapattinam, said loads of relief materials were stuck on the roads due to protests. “We have been working round the clock to ensure that proper relief materials reach all the affected areas." he said.
The minister added that the administration had began supplying drinking water and was distributing other provisions like rice through ration shops.
On Sunday, when people from coastal villages near Vizhunthamavadi in Nagapattinam district staged a protest citing delay in relief, minister O.S. Manian’s car was attacked.
In Thelungan Kudikadu of the Orathanaadu taluk, agitated residents blocked roads on Monday and confronted AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam, and ministers Kadambur C. Raju and K.A. Sengottaiyan about “government’s inaction".
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’ s visit to the affected areas on Tuesday was cut short. He left without visiting Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam, citing “bad weather".
“What is the point of his (CM) visit, if he is not ready to face us," said M.G. Uthrapathy from Neivasal who was protesting with over 1,000 people during the chief minister’s visit.
Opposition leader M.K.Stalin slammed the chief minister and said that ministers were afraid to face the people. “After landing in Trichy, he took a helicopter to reach Pudukkottai and just travelled for a kilometre on road and visited very few areas. Without meeting people, how can understand their needs," asked Stalin.