New Delhi, Amid floods in Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh, the government on Wednesday assured parliament of all possible help to the affected states, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the situation with his cabinet colleagues.
“The prime minister held a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and discussed the flood situation. The ministers exchanged information on the situation,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said in the Lok Sabha.
“The prime minister had spoken to (Tamil Nadu) Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa yesterday (Tuesday) and assured her all possible support and cooperation from the Centre.
“The home minister is chairing a high-level meeting to discuss the flood situation. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and others were also present in the meeting,” he added.
The issue was discussed in both houses of parliament.
Naidu told the Lok Sabha that the army, navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were pressed into service to help the distressed people.
He said the situation was “unheard of and unprecedented”. “We are very concerned,” he added.
Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi Karunanidhi of the DMK asked the central government to declare the Chennai floods a national disaster, saying the situation was grave.
“The work done by the central government is commendable, but more needs to be done,” she added.
Narasimham Thota of the TDP urged the Centre to immediately release Rs.1,000 crore as an advance to the state from the National Disaster Relief Fund.
Rajamohan Reddy of the YSR Congress Party also urged the Centre to send a team to Andhra Pradesh to assess the damage caused by rains.
Earlier, initiating the discussion, T.G. Venkatesh Babu of the AIADMK demanded adequate assistance from the Centre for flood-hit Tamil Nadu.
He said that after assessing the damage, a memorandum was submitted to the central government by the Tamil Nadu government seeking Rs.2,630.85 crore for temporary restoration and Rs.5,850.34 crore for permanent restoration.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said that along with Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu, floods have very badly affected West Bengal also.
Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said: Tamil Nadu “has given a suggestion that the State Disaster Response Fund should be borne by the government of India. Odisha has been demanding the same thing.”
Earlier in the day, both houses witnessed uproar on different issues.
In the Lok Sabha, the Congress attacked minister V.K. Singh, who was present in the house, and sought action against him for his dog analogy and staged a walkout. The Trinamool Congress and the Left too staged a walkout on the issue.
As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, the Congress sought to raise the issue but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she has disallowed all notices for suspension of question hour, leading to Congress members trooping near the speaker’s podium and shouting slogans against the government.
Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government during the debate on intolerance did not touch upon the remarks made by V.K. Singh about Dalits.
After some 40 minutes of uproar, during which the speaker’s repeated requests to the protesting members to calm down fell on deaf ears, a visibly upset Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the Lok Sabha.
The Rajya Sabha, however, witnessed repeated adjournments in the pre- and post-lunch sessions and proceedings of the house became smooth only after the house reassembled at 3.30 p.m. when it took up the discussion on floods in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier, the government and the opposition locked horns in the upper house as the treasury benches sought to contradict Congress member Kumari Selja’s claim of having faced caste discrimination at a Gujarat temple when she was a union minister.