'FM Nirmala Sitharaman insulted Tamil Nadu people in the grip of calamity'
TN finance minister Thangam Thennarasu said the state govt had asked the Centre to disburse Rs 21,000 crore as relief to the rain-hit Tamil Nadu, but "the Centre declined"
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has insulted the people of Tamil Nadu, who were in the grip of a calamity, by "discourteously declining" to provide funds as requested by Chief Minister M K Stalin, state Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu said on Friday.
She has responded "in an angry language of waging a war on an enemy country," Thennarasu said, referring to Sitharaman's press briefing in the national capital today faulting the state administration's handling of the flood situation.
The state government had sought the Centre to declare the rain-affected districts as a "calamity of severe nature" and disburse Rs 21,000 crore as relief to Tamil Nadu. "But the Centre declined. This is what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in an egoistic tone, the language she knows," Thennarasu said in a hard-hitting statement here.
"You all know that Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu districts received heavy rains on December 4 and Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Kanyakumari and Tenkasi districts received very heavy rain on December 17 and 18, resulting massive floods," he said.
A tragedy was averted only because of the precautionary measures taken by the Tamil Nadu government. Every area was now gradually recovering due to post-rain relief measures being taken, he said.
The state government announced a relief amount of Rs 6,000 and started disbursing it to the affected. "Rescue and relief work continues in some places in Thoothukudi district. I don't need to elaborate further as the people in the flood-affected areas and also those in other parts of the country are aware of this through media reports," Thennarasu said in the statement.
During the 20-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 19, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister explained about the adverse impact of the rains and submitted a memorandum.
"Accepting the memorandum, the Prime Minister had said 'I will fulfill all your requests. Nothing matters more than this,' the Prime Minister had assured the Chief Minister," Thennarasu claimed.
Stalin demanded an interim relief of Rs 7,033 crore and Rs 12,659 crore as permanent relief for relief and rehabilitation works in Chennai and suburbs. As to the four southern districts of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Kanyakumari, and Tenkasi, he sought the Prime Minister to provide Rs 2,000 crore as interim relief.
Also, the Tamil Nadu government urged the Centre to declare a calamity of severe nature in the affected districts. The Union Finance Minister stated that it cannot be declared a national calamity, he said and added that she failed to take into account the impact of the calamity, concerns and sufferings of the affected people.
"Her press briefing is like mocking people when they are suffering the most," Thennarasu said and accused her of using the media to create a false impression on the Tamil Nadu government by uttering "lies and making false allegations."
He expressed disappointment that Sitharaman had not called for the briefing to announce the disbursal of funds for Tamil Nadu. "Why give an interview to say 'no funds'" he asked.