Will seek Central help for infra to minimise cyclone damage: Maha CM

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(Eds: Adds quotes) Mumbai, May 21 (PTI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said his government will seek Central assistance to set up permanent infrastructure along the sea coast to minimize the damage caused by cyclones.

Speaking to reporters at Malwan in Sindhudurg district, over 530 kilometres from here, the CM said frequent cyclones cause immense damage to crops, property and loss of lives.

The Union government must provide some assistance, he said, adding that cyclone Tauktae, which hit several parts of the state earlier this week, was a very severe one.

Assessment of damage from Tauktae is almost complete, the process of preparing 'panchnamas' was underway on a war-footing and would be completed in two days, and aid would be provided as per the norms of the Central government, Thackeray informed.

'We have appealed to the Centre to provide maximum aid. The prime minister is sensitive. We don't want to indulge in politics,' he said.

Thackeray , earlier in the day, toured Ratnagiri, where five talukas, especially Rajaur and Ratnagiri, were severely affected by the cyclone.

Mango, cashew and coconut plantations have been damaged in Ratnagiri district, and officials have been asked to assess exact figures so that people get relief, the CM said.

Officials said two people had died and eight were injured, while 11 animals were killed in the cyclone in Ratnagiri district, and 17 homes were fully destroyed and 6,766 partially damaged.

'A total of 370 cattle sheds were damaged, 1,042 trees were uprooted, 59 shops and 56 schools damaged. Some 1,100 farmers have lost crops on 2,500 hectares, and power supply in 1,239 villages was impacted, though it has been restored now,' they said.

Responding to a query on BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis claiming that the CM was making political comments while touring cyclone-affected areas, Thackeray said. 'I am not the leader of opposition. I am not frustrated.' 'I don't want to indulge in politics. More than one time package, I believe in permanent solutions. I want to appeal to the central government to amend the criteria of compensation under SRDF and NDRF,' the CM said.

Thackeray said there was need for underground cabling along the coast so that electricity outages can be avoided during cyclones, and proper shelter homes must be constructed on permanent basis for times when the administration needs to evacuate people.

Fadnavis had pulled up the state government for not deploying NDRF in Devgad in Sindhudurg and also for not taking 'preemptive measures' despite getting a cyclone alert in advance.

Speaking on the COVID-19 situation, Thackeray said the aim was to reduce the daily addition in cases and deaths as well as to effectively implement protocols to ensure a possible third wave of infections can be stopped. PTI MR BNM BNM BNM