Cyclone Nisarga: Central team visits Raigad for two days, assesses damage
District collector to prepare details of damages to be sent to the team for a relief package, guardian minister pegs actual losses at around Rs 600 crore
A high-power different departments visited the cyclone-affected Raigad district and inspected villages and coastal areas from June 16 to 18 afternoon. Most of the six-member team had representatives of the central government who assessed the situation on ground zero.
Highly placed government officials told mid-day that the team took a keen interest in understanding the difficulties faced by the population affected by Cyclone Nisarga which hit Raigad and nearby districts on June 3. The team spent two nights in Raigad and was to return to Delhi on Thursday but changed its plan to accommodate a visit to a village in Ratnagiri district. The team will return to Delhi on Friday.
The team included Ramesh Ganta, joint secretary (Admin and CBT), NDMA/MHA; R B Kaul, consultant, Ministry of Finance (Expenditure); NRLK Prasad, director, Ministry of Power, Central Electricity Authority; S S Modi, deputy secretary, Ministry of Rural Development; R P Singh, Ministry of Agriculture, Nagpur and Tushar Vyas, executive engineer, Department of Road (Transport and Highway), Mumbai. The team was accompanied by District Collector Nidhi Choudhari, who appraised them about the damages to horticulture, crops, coastlines, school and government buildings, major damages to electric poles, transformers, etc.
Choudhari said, "The team gave patient hearing to the affected people who lost their crops, horticulture, houses, etc. It was an extensive, insightful visit for the central team. We touched upon all areas of concern and will now be submitting our memorandum, which will be given to the state department, and upon approval, the same will be sent to the central team."
they observed first-hand the losses to horticulture in Raigad
Choudhari added, "The team visited nearly 10 affected villages, across Raigad district and even visited some damaged zilla parishad schools and aanganwadis. They were shocked to see the extent of damage that gusty winds of 120 km per hour could cause, which was never expected."
'Enhance relief packages'
Giving details about the compensation for the affected population, Choudhari said, "We have disbursed R72 crore out of the R250 crore, as per the preliminary assessment of losses under the NDRF norms, which was later revised by the state government on special request. We are expecting the balance money to come within the next few days, and will be disbursing it accordingly."
Aditi Tatkare, guardian minister of Raigad district and also the state minister, told mid-day, "I got the opportunity to discuss the ground situation with the central government team and I explained that this is the first time that Maharashtra and Konkan area experienced a cyclone of this intensity which has affected the people and their source of living adversely."
"While the preliminary estimation of losses might peg them around R250 crore, the actual losses might be over R600 crore, and I have made a request to the central team to consider making amendments in the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA) compensation figures for cyclone-related damages," said Tatkare.
She added, "The state government, under the NDRF norms, has increased the relief of R6,000 (for minor damages) to R15,000 and the relief for major damages from R1 lakh to R1.50 lakh."
"We have also made an additional request to the state government to have two more categories for reimbursing cyclone-hit people as this compensation is too less. We have asked for an additional slab of R25,000 and another between R50,000 and R1,50,000, which can be allotted to people after assessment of losses that may not fit in the earlier two categories. The proposal is likely to be discussed in the coming cabinet and we are hoping it will be approved," said Tatkare.
With regard to the damaged aanganwadis and zilla parishad schools, Tatkare said, "We have requested the state government to clear a relief package to reconstruct the two so that work can begin at the earliest. While the state education department has not declared the dates for reopening of schools yet, we will need to make alternative arrangements so that students can continue with their studies."
Tatkare has also written a two-page letter to the central team asking for necessary changes within the existing compensation norms in case of disasters like cyclones and has asked for a relief package for Raigad and its nearby districts.
Guardian minister's letter to central team
"Nisarga weakened once inland and dissipated on June 4, but not without wreaking havoc in the district... As the current guidelines of NDRF and SDRF are not equipped to handle the situation such as Nisarga, we need better regulations and implementations of the same in a quick and efficient manner, so as to ensure the compensation and benefits awarded are justified to present GDF and World Economic Crises. It is high time that we revisit the compensation part being awarded to the man in the street is just and respectful and not just for mere survival... The Konkan belt of Maharashtra is...known for its horticulture viz mangoes, cashew, home-grown organic spices, etc and are popularly known as 'Paras baug', which the cyclone has devasted completely. A special financial package owing to the losses, be considered," Guardian Minister Aditi Tatkare wrote in her letter.
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