Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan today accused the Tamil Nadu government of conducting an "armchair assessment" of areas hit by Cyclone Gaja and releasing a measly compensation that would do little to alleviate the people's losses.
"Three lakh houses have been destroyed, forcing around a million people onto the streets. The cyclone has affected even the rich, and made the poor even poorer. But the EK Palaniswami government has released a pittance as aid; it will not do anything to raise people to their feet again," said Mr Haasan.
The politician said that his party -- the Makkal Needhi Maiam -- has done its best to help the affected, as have many non-governmental organisations across the country. "Gaja has already caused many hardships to the people. The government should not add to their hardships by acting indifferently," he added.
The Tamil Nadu government has released Rs 1,000 crore as an interim measure to aid rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and approached the centre for a Rs 14,910-crore relief package. The districts of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Pudukottai suffered the most because of the cyclone, which claimed 63 lives and left behind a trail of destruction.
Mr Haasan had earlier asked Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to "rise above politics" and extend support to the cyclone-hit. The latter, who shares a good rapport with the actor-politician, responded by donating Rs 10 crore as immediate relief.
Even the opposition DMK has alleged that relief work was not being carried out to satisfaction in the Cauvery delta regions ravaged by Cyclone Gaja last week. Party president MK Stalin demanded that the state government convene a meeting of stakeholders from the region to take the relief activites forward, and asked Mr Palanisami to stay put in the delta region to oversee relief work.