Lokesh Jha, Joint Secretary in the Union Home Ministry and leader of the nine-member Central team constituted to assess the damage caused by cyclone Thane, told reporters here on Monday that “the affected area is vast and the damage is also vast.”

Mr. Jha said that besides visiting the cyclone-hit areas, the team would also have to examine the memoranda to be given by the Cuddalore district administration and the Tamil Nadu government before finalising its report to be submitted to the Centre. Therefore, he could not specify any time limit for preparing the report.

He acknowledged the fact that agricultural and horticultural crops, houses, boats and infrastructure in the district have suffered heavy damage.

Since power supply system too had been badly affected, he asked District Collector V. Amuthavalli whether a team from the Central Electricity Board could be deployed. The latter replied that it could be decided after having consultations with higher-ups.

Asked whether in his opinion the ravages left behind by the cyclone would qualify Cuddalore district to be declared as “a disaster-hit district,” Mr. Jha said that it could be determined after further discussions with the State government.

Good work lauded

Asked if he was satisfied with the relief measures taken by the authorities as quite a number of people he had met complained about it, Mr. Jha said that the district administration and the State government had “definitely done good work.”

A senior official of the State government who accompanied the Central team told this correspondent that of the total losses of Rs.5,250 crore projected by the government on account of the cyclone, Cuddalore's share alone would exceed Rs.4,000 crore.

With agricultural and horticultural crops on two lakh hectares damaged, Cuddalore district alone accounted for over one lakh hectares of such crops.

Moreover, three lakh houses, a vast network of power supply system and boats too were damaged in the district.

All efforts had been taken to provide immediate relief and carry out speedy restoration works in the affected areas, the official said.

The Central team visited T. Kumarapuram, Nellikuppam, Chozhavalli, Vanpakkam, Melpattampakkam, Kozhipakkam, Sathipattu, Kadampuliyur, Thanzhanguda, Thevanampatinam and Suthukulam before winding up the trip at Neyveli.

State officials, who accompanied the team, included Principal Revenue Secretary Rajagopal; Principal Commissioner of Revenue Administration K. Ganandesikan;, Commissioner of Horticulture Santosh Babu; Director of Fisheries Rajendra Ratnoo; Director of Rural Development S. Vijayakurm; Commissioner of Municipal Administration Vinoth Kamble; Commissioner of Agriculture Manivasagam; Officer on Special Duty S. Prabakar; and District Collector V. Amuthavalli.