Cites magnitude of destruction, says normality was restored within a month

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday strongly defended her government's relief work in the cyclone-affected Cuddalore district.

Rebutting Deputy Leader of the Opposition Panruti S. Ramachandran's (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) observations that no work was carried out for two or three days after the cyclone struck, the Chief Minister said the district administration did whatever was possible immediately. Food packets and drinking water were distributed. Within 24 hours, trees that had fallen on roads were cleared. Gradually, the pace of work was speeded up. The affected people and those who had lost homes were put up at schools. It is wrong to say that they were not provided with food or financial assistance.

“If facts and figures are available, make your point, using them. Otherwise, it is easy to make sweeping remarks,” she said.

Given the magnitude of the destruction in Cuddalore, Villupuram and Nagapattinam, any State government would have taken at least six or seven months to ensure the return of normality. “But, we have accomplished it within a month,” she said, amid thumping of desks.

Talking of the damage suffered by the electricity network, she said that the entire supply system had been destroyed. “So far, we have not seen such destruction anywhere in Tamil Nadu. Even people residing there [in Cuddalore] thought it would take a minimum of four months. But, we have restored the supply in a month,” she said, explaining how the work was executed on a war footing.

The government managed to provide Rs.300 crore to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation. Before the Pongal festival, domestic electric supply was restored. Instructions were issued to cover all farm pumpsets by January 30, and this was also achieved.

A former Chief Minister of the Puducherry had that said no such work, as done in the State, was happening in Puducherry.

Ms. Jayalalithaa posed a challenge to the DMDK leader whether he could cite any State government that had functioned the way her regime had done under similar circumstances. Mr. Ramachandran himself had acknowledged that there was no support from the Centre. Using its finances, sources of finance and manpower, her government had done so much, for which it deserved commendation.

There would be some lapses as the destruction was unprecedented. But, the execution of works was in progress.

She would furnish all facts and figures in her reply on Saturday, Ms. Jayalalithaa said. Her government planned to provide a huge package of assistance, which would be beyond the expectations of all.