Thanjavur: Four days after cyclone Gaja created havoc in Tamil Nadu’s Cauvery delta districts and Karaikal in Puducherry, people remain stranded without food and water in most of the areas. Residents of several villages across Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Pudukottai districts involved in road blockades demanding supply of essentials—food and drinking water. “Our immediate need is drinking water and food. Our houses are gone and since there has been no electricity since Thursday evening, we are unable to pump water," said M. Krishnaveni at Aladikkumulai village, in Thanjavur.
More than 2,000 people from Aladikkumulai village who were made to stay at a nearby marriage hall returned to their houses on Monday, only to see them completely razed down by the fury of cyclone.
On Tuesday, chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami visited Pudukkottai district and left to Chennai without visiting Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam, citing “bad weather".
Opposition leader M.K.Stalin slammed the chief minister and said that the 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 the needs of the people," asked Stalin.
As per the estimates of the Tamil Nadu government, a total of 86, 702 electric poles, 841 distribution transformers and 201 electric sub stations are affected. Hundreds of employees of Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) from various districts have reached Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Pudukottai for restoration work.
“Considering the extent of damage, it will take at least 10 days to fully restore just the Orathanaadu town in Thanjavur district," said Hari Krishnan a TNEB foreman who has come to Thanjavur from Kanchipuram district for restoration work.
More than 2,000 people from this village who were made to stay at a nearby marriage hall are returning to their houses, only to see them completely razed down by the fury of cyclone.
He added: “I was involved in electricity restoration work during cyclones such as Thane (2011), Vardhah (2016) and Ockhi (2017). But, haven’t seen anything worse like this one."
Cyclone Gaja hit the coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on the early hours of Friday morning gusting with the wind speed of 120 kmph.
According to the Tamil Nadu government, as on Tuesday the death toll stood at 46 and more than 251,600 people have been evacuated to over 500 relief camps. The Cauvery delta region known as the granary of Tamil Nadu has lost over 170, 454 trees estimated the Tamil Nadu government.
About 88,102 hectares of agricultural and horticultural crops have been damaged and 4,800 fishing boats damaged, as per government’s initial estimates. However, the number is just a fraction of the loss said farmers in Thanjavur and other neighbouring districts.
R. Balasubramanian of the Poovathur village in Orathanadu taluk near Thanjavur said that, of the 1,000 coconuts trees in his 20 acre farm, only about 15 trees remain after the storm.
“We know that we have huge economic losses, unsure how we will recover. We, in Cauvery delta, for ages, have grown crops and cultivated food for everyone. But, today as we stand with our livelihoods lost, our immediate necessity remain water and food," said 58- year old S. Murugesan at Pallikondan of the Pattukottai town near Thanjavur.
The villagers of the Pallikondan blocked roads for the second day on Monday demanding supply of water and food. Similar incidents occurred across Thanjavur and districts surrounding it.
In Thelungan Kudikadu in Orathanaadu taluk, agitated residents blocked the roads and confronted All India Anna Dravida Munnetrs Kazhagam (AIADMK) Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam, ministers Kadambur C. Raju and K.A. Sengottaiyan and questioned the delayed response of the government in relief and restoration.
Chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered release of Rs. 1,000 crore on Monday night, towards relief operations.
The opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Monday announced Rs.1 crore for relief and rehabilitation efforts.
“Apart from this all the DMK MPs and MLAs will contribute their one month’s salary as a financial assistance," said DMK president M.K Stalin.