Cyclone Ockhi, which wreaked havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, cannot be declared a national calamity as there is no such scheme, the Central government has said.
Speaking to reporters after attending a high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala, Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam said the Centre had already given necessary relief funds to the state government and assured all necessary assistance to tackle the situation.
“We have received a memorandum from the state government requesting to declare Cyclone Ockhi as a national calamity. But, there is no such scheme for the Centre to do the same,” he said.
Though the Union tourism minister earlier backed the Kerala government’s contention that they had not received any prior warning about the cyclone, he later clarified that the central agencies had given necessary alerts on November 28 and 29 itself.
Kannanthanam, in the presence of Vijayan, earlier had stated that the state had received the cyclone alert only on November 30 and a clear prior warning had not been issued before that.
The Union minister later visited nearby Punthura, a coastal hamlet where fishermen are protesting alleging delay in the rescue of their kin, who had ventured into sea days ago.
According to latest reports, at least 22 people have been killed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while hundreds of fishermen from both states who ventured into the seas are still missing.
Teams from NDRF, Indian Navy and Coast Guard have been deployed in the search and rescue mission for those missing.