January 2012

Govt restored normalcy in cyclone hit areas with immediacy: CM

 Chennai, Jan 31 (PTI) Describing the havoc caused by cyclone 'Thane' in Cuddalore district last month as "unprecedented", Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today said her government worked in full swing to restore normalcy quickly, especially on the power front. "We removed all uprooted trees in 24 hours. Affected persons were moved to safer zones immediately and provided with food and our efforts have been lauded even in neighbouring Puduchery (which also faced Thane's fury)," she said. Intervening during the debate on the motion to thank the Governor for his address to the Assembly, she said while it was anticipated that it would take about 6-7 months to restore normalcy, the government had done that in a month after the severe cyclonic storm crossed the coast on December 30. "We have never seen such devastation. But contrary to the expectations, we restored power supply within a month by pooling all our resources, manual and financial," she said. "The devastation created is unprecedented. There may be some shortcomings (in relief and rehabilitation). But works are happening and I will detail those on February 4," she said

Cash-strapped government struggles for relief

 A cash-strapped territorial administration will have to wait for more time to provide compensation for the Thane-affected persons as the government has received only a part of the interim relief sanctioned by the Union Government and most of the departments are short of resources to take up long-term relief on their own.

Though nearly a month has passed, the government is yet to provide money as relief for people who have lost or sustained damage to their dwelling units, to farmers who lost their crop and to fisherfolk for livelihood loss. So far, the only relief disbursed was Rs 2000 to all cardholders and 2 litre of kerosene for select category of people.

Chief Minister N Rangasamy on January 11 had announced a financial package of around Rs 161 crore to compensate for damaged houses, huts, crops and for the livelihood of fishermen affected by the cyclone ‘Thane'.

Panel to settle relief disputes

 The disbursement of relief amount to the cyclone affected farmers has given rise to a contentious issue as to whether the benefit should go to the actual owner of the land or to the tenant who cultivates the land.

The officials entrusted with the task are therefore baffled because at certain places both the land owners and tenants are staking claim. Therefore, to resolve the dispute District Collector Rajendra Ratnoo has constituted official teams who would organize special camps in such areas for three days for finding amicable solution.

Mr Ratnoo told the presspersons here on Monday that it was the established practice that the registered tenants were fully entitled to the relief, whereas, in the case of the unregistered tenants the case ought to be studied in details.

Arikanmedu still not cleared


The Ancient Roman trading centre at Arikanmedu, which was damaged in the cyclone, has still not been cleared.

Cyclone Thane, which struck on December 30, wreaked havoc on the Arikanmedu excavation site, which is controlled by the Archeological Survey of India. Almost a month after the cyclone struck, the area remains the same.

Most of the trees in the area were felled and a few of the visible walls of ancient buildings have been damaged by the fallen trees. The area gained prominence as the first discovery of Mediterranean artefacts on the east coast.

Angling for compensation, fishermen still keep off sea

PUDUCHERRY, January 30, 2012 


Even a month after the cyclone, ‘Thane,' crossed the coast, fishermen of Puducherry are yet to resume their activities and the damaged boats still lie unused at the Thengathittu harbour.

Village panchayats of 18 fishing villages have decided that unless relief is distributed, they will not resume their activities.

Call for better housing in cyclone-hit areas

 In the backdrop of the destruction caused by Thane, Gandhian and Alternative Nobel Prize winner Krishnammal Jaganathan has called for better housing for the vulnerable section of the population. While flagging off a rally here recently to push this demand, Ms.Jaganathan and her organisation LAFTI (Land for Tillers Freedom) has put forward the cause of farm labourers who were the worst hit in natural disasters.

Farm labourers lived in hutments that inevitably suffered destruction, and therefore they are entitled to concrete housing schemes irrespective of categories of caste, creed or religion.

Cyclone-affected farmers float new forum

 A group of farmers have joined hands to float a forum called the Association of Thane Cyclone-Affected Coconut Farmers of Cuddalore District.

Association president G.Ramalingam told The Hindu that coconut growers had suffered unprecedented losses. According to a preliminary estimate 10 lakh coconut trees were uprooted and survival of five lakh trees was doubtful.

These plantations were the source of livelihood not only for the coconut growers but also for several thousands of labourers. Besides producing nuts, coconut trees provided raw material to the coir industry and allied enterprises.

Coconut trees to be souped up

 AV Raghunathan

An expert group, comprising senior officials drawn from various departments, including the Coconut Development Board, has been constituted to devise a suitable strategy to rejuvenate coconut trees that have survived the onslaught of cyclone ‘Thane' and also to raise new plantations where trees have been fully damaged.

The group consists of Additional Director of Agriculture Elangovan, Deputy Director of Agriculture Manoharan, Deputy Director of Coconut Development Board Hemachandra, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Professor P.Natarajan, and, Joint Directors of Agriculture from Cuddalore and Villupuram districts.

Official sources told The Hindu that as per the study conducted by the group coconuts were being grown on 3,291 hectares in Cuddalore and Villupuram districts. The area under coconut cultivation in Cuddalore was 2,743 ha and in Villupuram 548 ha. While coconut trees on 2,424 ha, including Cuddalore – 1,918 ha and Villupuram –506 ha, were totally destroyed, trees on 867 ha, including Cuddalore – 825 ha and Villupuram – 42 ha, were partially damaged.

TN to construct one lakh concrete houses in cyclone-hit districts

 Tamil Nadu Government would construct one lakh concrete houses at a cost of Rs 1000 crore to replace damaged huts in the Cyclone Thane affected districts of Cuddalore and Villupuram, Governor K Rosaiah said on Monday.

The state government has also presented a memorandum spelling out the quantum of damage and has sought an assistance of Rs 5248 crore from the Centre, he recalled.

The Government would take up construction of one lakh concrete houses immediately to provide safe shelter to affected families, he said in his address to the Assembly.

The governor appreciated the State Government for using early warning systems to initiate preventive measures and for taking timely action for providing relief.

Post 'Thane', bird population dwindles in Cuddalore district

 Post-cyclone ‘Thane', the bird population in Cuddalore district has significantly come down, both due to untimely deaths and shifting of habitats.

The strong winds forced birds such as crows, sparrows, mynahs, parrots and ravens to abandon their usual roosting places and settle elsewhere.

After the cyclone the carcasses of quite a number of crows were seen in many places and also along the coastline. Caught in the whirlwind they could not wing their way to safety. Deputy Director of the Bombay Natural History Society S. Balachandran, who has conducted studies on birds along the east coast, including Cuddalore, told The Hindu that fortunately for the bird population the cyclone struck in December.