Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday assured opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha that the Centre will take all necessary steps to restore normalcy in cyclone-hit Tamil Nadu.
“I have heard the suggestions of the members and I will take them into consideration. Whatever needs to be done immediately, I will certainly have a discussion with the government and take appropriate steps,” Jaitley said in the upper house.
The minister said the government shares the concerns of the members of the house over the natural calamity that took place in Tamil Nadu.
“It is a moment of serious crisis. Some anticipated action was taken in advance as NDRF teams and army columns were there, and rescue and relief operations were carried out immediately,” Jaitley said.
Earlier, Congress leader P. Chidambaram demanded the central government announce financial aid for Tamil Nadu.
“The government should respond to the Tamil Nadu government’s request of financial aid. The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister must consult each other immediately and today (Wednesday) they must announce a package or financial aid for the affected state,” Chidambaram demanded in the Rajya Sabha.
Chidambaram also complemented the government for positioning the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) in advance and making army columns available for rescue.
“What they have done is good but more needs to be done. Make sure that the ATMs and bank branches are replenished in Tamil Nadu so that people can withdraw their own money,” the former Finance Minister said.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja also demanded the government provide financial assistance to Tamil Nadu for relief work. “Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai, is badly affected due to the cyclone. The Centre should come forward to help the state,” Raja said.
He said that many parts of Chennai and several villages in Tamil Nadu were in the dark as electricity and telecommunication services were crippled due to the cyclone, and demonetisation was adding to their misery.
DMK leader Tiruchi Siva demanded the central government send an expert team to Tamil Nadu to assess the losses due to Cyclone Vardah and give Rs 10,000 crore for the relief and reconstruction works in the state.
Cyclone Vardah crossed the Chennai coast on Monday and wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu. It uprooted thousands of trees and damaged over 7,000 huts as well as power infrastructure.
Tamil Nadu government has asked the Centre for Rs 1,000 crore for relief and reconstruction.