Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare as a national calamity the floods that has hit many districts, and also suggested schemes for the central government to formulate to assist the affected families.
In a letter to Modi, the text of which was released to the media, Jayalalithaa said: "You are personally aware of the catastrophic destruction and devastation caused by the four rounds of floods that have overrun numerous districts of Tamil Nadu over the past few weeks.
"I request you to immediately declare this unprecedented, catastrophic and cataclysmic event a national calamity," she added.
Heavy rains have battered Chennai, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore and Thiruvallur districts for the past one month, resulting in floods that have killed over 325 lives and destroying assets worth several thousand crores of rupees.
Kanchipuram, which is famed for silk saris and temples, is located 70 km from Chennai. Thiruvallur and Cuddalore are 39 and 185 km away from the state capital, respectively.
Jayalalithaa said a supplementary memorandum will be submitted by the state government listing out the flood damage and the amount of central assistance needed.
On the loss of consumer durables by many families in the floods, Jayalalithaa said it cannot be compensated through the existing structure of relief payments.
She suggested that the central government come out with schemes whereby the insurance claims are settled fast; moratorium of housing load instalments and also rescheduling of the loans, soft loans for purchase of consumer durables; education loans and sale of consumer durables at the flood affected districts with excise duty exemption.
Meanwhile, Chennai experienced intermittent rains after a two-day respite giving a scare to the citizens who are creeping back to normalcy.
"We are just living. Where is the normalcy? We have to wait for the water tankers to supply drinking water. For water for bathing, we have to go in search of a hand pump. We are forced to come to work," R. Ravi, a courier delivery boy, told IANS.
This was echoed by a cross section of the society in Chennai.
"I have lost my trade tools and other items in the flood," T.M. Ramalingam, a carpenter here, told IANS.
The Met Office has predicted heavy showers till December 11. According to the weather office, there might be heavy rains in coastal Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, due to low pressure formed around the Bay of Bengal.
Southern Railway has cancelled many long distance trains in Chennai, officials said.
Schools and colleges will be closed till December 13.
The Corporation of Chennai is carrying out a massive garbage cleaning operation bringing in workers and equipment from other districts.
In a statement, Jayalalithaa said two and three-wheeler makers -- TVS Motor, Yamaha India, Bajaj Auto and Eicher Motors -- have agreed to service flood-damaged vehicles free of cost.
She said special servicing camps will be conducted by these companies from December 12 to 21 in the four flood-affected districts.