Chennai: After visiting the flood ravaged districts in Tamil Nadu due to heavy rains, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said there were lessons to be learnt over managing floods while the Minister of State for Shipping slammed the local authorities for their carelessness.
"I would not want to conclude on it... I have heard a lot from people both about short and long term problems, definitely there are lot of lessons to learn," Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here when asked if the state government has failed in disaster management.
Tamil Nadu has witnessed heavy rains in the past ten days and consequential flooding in several regions killing over 100 in related incidents.
Earlier, she visited areas badly hit by rain and floods in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts and Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan went around Cuddalore district. They will be continuing their tour and subsequently submit a report to their party chief Amit Shah.
Sharing the feedback from affected people, she said there were several grievances like sections of residents not being informed beforehand about the possibility of flooding.
Also, there was mix up of sewage with rain water and it has inundated some houses in Velachery. Expressing concern, she said all efforts must be made to preempt the possibility of an epidemic outbreak.
Replying to questions over Central assistance to the state, she said, "we are ready to take action on receipt of report from Tamil Nadu government, we are ready to cooperate in all respects."
Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary had informed the Union Home Secretary that they were managing the situation and that the Centre will be apprised over requirements.
Stating that usually an assessment by the Centre happened after the State's request, she said such an official inspection by the Centre could happen anytime based on Tamil Nadu's request.
She said Union Minister Venkiah Naidu has done an aerial inspection of flood ravaged parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Radhakrishnan squarely blamed the local authorities for not taking adequate precautionary measures and faulted them for carelessness in handling the fallout.
"The Corporation (of Chennai) has totally failed, in several places even after a week water stagnation continues and there is concern of epidemic," he said.
Asked if the disaster management planning was not proper,
Radhakrishnan said, "sure", and underscored the importance of preventive steps by quoting a Tamil proverb.
"If such things (flooding, loss of lives) happen even after disasters like Thane cyclone and Tsunami, it shows that the administration has been very negligent," he said and referred to loss of lives in Cuddalore district and submergence of agriculture fields.
Citing a specific instance where five people were allowed to reside in a damaged house in Cuddalore district, he said, "a more negligent thing cannot happen anywhere else".
Stating that cash assistance of Rs 5,000 was being given in Cuddalore district by the state government to people "both affected and unaffected" due to floods, he said the "intention could not be understood".
He said rather, the cash could be deposited in the bank accounts of beneficiaries and as for those unaffected such aid may be provided for "preventive measures".
"I don't want to politicise it, but, why it is given and what is the aim.? We are being led (by the circumstances) to have a political view, we do not know why it is given and how beneficiaries are utilising it."