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‘269 dead in Tamil Nadu floods, Chennai turned into island’

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(Source: ADGPI - Indian Army)

New Delhi: The heaviest rains in Tamil Nadu in over a century and floods have left 269 people dead, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, describing the situation as “alarming”.

The minister also told the Lok Sabha that 54 people had been killed in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and two in Puducherry.

“There are no two opinions that the situation in Tamil Nadu is alarming. It is not an exaggeration to say that Chennai has turned into an island,” Singh said.

He said all highways leading to Chennai were closed.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the flood destruction must be declared a national disaster, and requested Rs 5,000 crore as immediate aid to the state.

Responding to Jayalalithaa’s request, Modi announced the release of Rs 1,000 crore from the NDRF.

Chennai, the Home Minister said, had received torrential rains, and the meteorological department had forecast more rains in the next two-three days.

Singh said 30 teams of the National Disaster Response Force and seven columns of the army were engaged in relief and rescue work. The navy had also deployed boats and divers.

He said the central government would provide all necessary assistance sought by the Tamil Nadu government.

Singh said he spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as well as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Puducherry Chief Minister A N Rangasamy.

Referring to Odisha, he said more money would be released in the wake of Cyclone Phailin which hit the state in 2013.

He said the centre would take necessary steps on West Bengal’s demand for central assistance in the wake of the heavy rains in the last monsoon.

Sudip Bandopadhyay of Trinamool Congress said the central team decided on assistance without consulting the chief minister.

He said West Bengal had suffered both drought and floods. Expressing unhappiness over the minister’s reply, Trinamool Congress members staged a walk out.

Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal said the minister had not given a concrete reply over the state’s demands in the wake of cyclone Phalin during which nearly 10 lakh people were evacuated to safer places.

Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai, an MP from the AIADMK, said the central government should accept all the demands of the Tamil Nadu chief minister relating to the flood situation.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the central government should call a meeting of Niti Aayog and increase the amount of assistance to the states.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav suggested creating a separate department to deal with natural disasters.

Rajnath Singh said: “The central government has been providing maximum assistance to states and will continue to do so.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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Terrorist Safe Havens Should Be Eliminated: Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh said in Bangkok that the international community should come together to disrupt terrorist networks

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Bangkok on Monday that the international community should come together to eliminate terrorist safe havens. Wikimedia Commons

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Bangkok on Monday that the international community should come together to eliminate terrorist safe havens and disrupt their networks and financing in order to thwart cross-border movements for achieving sustainable regional security is achieved.

Singh was addressing the sixth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Thailand, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the regional framework this year. Describing terrorism as the most heinous cross-border crime, Singh said some states have been using terror to pursue their political goals.

“It is so much worse when terrorists are aided, abetted, armed, financed and sheltered by States. The interplay between states and non-state actors, used as proxies to foment violence, has worsened this menace. The persistence of State-sponsored terrorism is not just a painful cancer, it is also the leading reason for unsustainable security,” said Singh.

Rajnath Singh
Rajnath Singh says that The persistence of State-sponsored terrorism is the leading reason for unsustainable security. Wikimedia Commons

The theme of the meeting this year is ‘Sustainable Security.’ Singh said there is a need for a more cooperative, equitable and consultative paradigm to deal with the broad and complex security challenges to find sustainable solutions.

Singh further said that India’s Indo-Pacific vision is based on the idea of sustainable security as it focuses on a free, open, inclusive and rules-based region in which there is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all natikons.

“Our region must remain open and welcoming to the interests of all, those who live in it and others whose interests are in it. In short, our approach to security in the Indo-Pacific is sustainable by definition because it emphasises Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR),” added Singh.

On negotiations for a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, Singh said the outcome of these talks will be in keeping with all relevant international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He said the forum promotes freedom of navigation, overflight and lawful commerce and also emphasised the need to protect the rights of States that are not party to these negotiations.

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Singh emphasied that India looks forward to the progress made through dialogue in addressing all related issues, including the proliferation trail that links South and East Asia on the issue of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. “As dialogue remains on the table, we hope missile launches and such destabilising activities will cease”, he said.

During the course of his address, Singh said India is eager to co-chair the India-Indonesia Expert Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the next cycle. (IANS)