New Delhi: Congress on Thursday demanded that the government declare the situation caused by torrential rains in Chennai and surrounding areas in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry as a "national disaster".
"We are aghast and upset that 269 people have lost their lives. We request the government to declare it as a national disaster and take immediate steps," Congress spokesman Rajeev Gowda told reporters.
He also made a strong pitch for constitution of a task force to ensure that urban development is in sync with environment.
"Government should learn from Chennai's tragedy. Smart cities should not be only about computers but also about respecting nature," he said.
The Congress spokesman also used the opportunity to target the Narendra Modi dispensation, alleging that it did not pay proper attention to the National Disaster Response Force.
"NDRF's case is distressing. In 2014-15, their budget was Rs 200 crore. During revised estimate it was down to Rs 50 crore. Finally only Rs 7 crore was spent.
"We need NDRF to be prepared. We want the government to respond and ensure that NDRF gets funds, personnel and capacity," he said.