Cyclone Thane: Major roads cleared for traffic

Relief operations shifted gears in cyclone-ravaged Cuddalore district and Puducherry on Sunday as traffic resumed on arterial roads.

Cuddalore: Relief operations shifted
gears in cyclone-ravaged Cuddalore district and Puducherry
on Sunday as traffic resumed on arterial roads and efforts mounted
for restoring electricity and supply of essential items even
as the death toll increased to 47.

Major roads which remained blocked due to uprooted trees
and debris dumped by the cyclone which crossed the state coast
near here on Friday had been cleared, paving the way for
resumption of supplies.

District Collector V Amudhavalli put the toll caused by
the cyclone in the district at 31, including ten women and two
children, with delayed reports about five more deaths coming
in from remote areas. The severe cyclonic storm had claimed 40
lives in Tamil Nadu and seven in Puducherry.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who was slated to tour
the cyclone-hit areas today cancelled his visit due to
inclement weather and will now inspect the areas on Tuesday,
Union Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said.

It was a dismal new year dawn for the people as more than
18,000 in Cuddalore district and scores in Puducherry
continued to be sheltered in government buildings, including
schools, and marriage halls where they were being provided
food and other essential items.

Officials said 90 per cent of affected roads in Cuddalore
district had been cleared for traffic, adding 20,000 litres of
petrol was expected to reach here from Nagapattinam today.

They said supply of essential items such as milk and fuel,
including kerosene, would normalised within two days while
water and power would be restored within a week.

Over 100 tanker lorries from Neyveli Lignite Corporation
and Nellikuppam sugar factory besides those of the civic
bodies had been pressed into service to provide water.

They said Samba paddy crop on 20,000 hectares, due for
harvest next week, in Chidambaram and Kattumanarkoil taluks
had been submerged under water while cashew and jackfruit
trees on 15,000 acres in Panruti taluk suffered damage.

A report from Puducherry said the union territory was
limping back to normalcy though drinking water and power
supply was not fully restored in most places and the work
on removing uprooted trees was underway.

Availability of milk continued to be affected but petrol
supply has become normal.

An average 60,000 food packets prepared at central
kitchens was being distributed daily to the people hit by the
cyclone, officials said.

Narayanasamy, also the Puducherry Lok Sabha member, and
opposition Congress and AIADMK, however, accused the AINRC
Government in the union territory of failing to provide timely
relief to the affected people.

Rejecting the charge, Chief Minister N Rangasamy
maintained that no initiatives were spared to provide succour
to the people.

He said the loss caused by the cyclone was estimated at Rs
2,000 crore and a detailed report would be submitted to the
Centre soon.

Educational institutions will continue to remain closed
for two days from tomorrow as the cyclone ravaged people are
accommodated in most of the school premises, sources said.