Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to declare a comprehensive special financial package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep in the wake of damage and loss of life caused by the cyclone Ockhi.
Gandhi, in his first letter to Modi as party President, also called for adequate measures for strengthening the advance cyclone warning communication mechanism in the coastal areas and constructing seawalls and groynes in the vulnerable sea coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Stressing that Ockhi had caused severe destruction and casualties in the southern coastal region, Lakshadweep and the western coast, he said that the death toll in Kerala alone has risen to 70 with hundreds of fishermen still missing.
"The situation is similar in Tamil Nadu with hundreds of fishermen missing and dozens having lost their lives. On a daily basis rescue teams and fishermen are finding floating dead bodies in the sea," he said.
Referring to his visit to some of the affected areas in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on December 14, Gandhi said he felt the immense pain brought to the people.
"As families mourn the loss of loved ones, others wait in hope and fear for those who have still not returned from sea," he said.
He said the fishermen deserve a helping hand in these challenging times and urged the Prime Minister to take necessary measures for their rehabilitation and restoration of their traditional vocation as a first priority,
"I would request you to declare a comprehensive special financial package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadeep to undertake rehabilitation, provide financial assistance to the families of the deceased fishermen and for overall development of coastal region, including steps for prevention of such tragedy," he said.
He also called holistic measures for ensuring housing, basic health services and quality education for children of the fishermen, saying they were one of the most underprivileged sections of society.
Gandhi said lifesaving instruments should be given to fishermen sailing to the sea.