TIDING OVER TSUNAMI
Tsunami: Impact & Damage
Turning Threat into Opportunities
Tsunami: Impact & Damage
TSUNAMI IN THE INDIAN OCEAN
On 26 December 2004, an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 on the Richter scale, with its epicenter off the coast of Sumatra, triggered the
tsunami in the Indian Ocean at 6.29 a.m. IST. The seismic fault ran north to south beneath the ocean floor, while the tsunami waves
shot out west to east. Within minutes of the earthquake, the first tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Simeule, located
approximately 40 km from the epicenter. The earthquake was felt widely along the coasts of India.
A typical scene on the islands of Sumatra on a quiet Sunday morning just the day after Christmas: some early birds strolled on the
beach while children played cricket and football on the beach sands. Fisher folk all along the coast went about their daily business of
repairing boats and nets, salting and drying fish, and cooking.
Some boats were out in the sea. Suddenly like a bolt out of the blue the earth rumbled and swallowed all it could in a matter of
The disaster continued in the form of giant waves that swept across eleven nations, including the southern pars of India, washing away
thousands of lives and livelihood ruthlessly. While many people are believed to have died in the earthquake itself, most fatalities
resulted from drowning caused by the seawater that gushed into the coastal areas. Everywhere, people along the coast were taken by
surprise. Among the worst hit was Sri Lanka, where the damage included a train being swept off the rails by the wave.
The earthquake, the tsunami and the events that followed will be long remembered as one among the worst human tragedies in history.
Reportedly over 2,85,000 people were killed or missing. Loss and devastation caused by this disaster brought incalculable suffering to
millions of people around the Indian Ocean.
TSUNAMI IN INDIA
The phenomenon of tsunami that usually occurs near seismically active spots in the Pacific Ocean was unheard of in India till it hit the
east and west coast in December 2004. this increased the shock and horror caused by the event. The waves that struck mainland India
were 3-10m in height and generated between 300 meters to 3000 meters inland causing severe damage to live and property in the
coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Pondichery, Kerala and Andaman and Nicobar islands, devastating and crippling the
coastal economy as never before.
The death toll in India was 12.04.05, the number of people missing, 5,640. Those displaced totaled 6,47,599.75 per cent of the
fatalities ere women and children; while 787 women became widows and 480 children were orphaned. Across the entire Indian coast
affected by tsunami, and estimated 1089 villages were affected, 157393 houses were destroyed and approximately 730000 individuals
were forced to leave their homes. 83788 boats were damaged or destroyed, 31,755 livestock were lost and 39,035 hectares of ripe
agricultural land was damaged. (Source for all figures; Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs Report, 25 May 2005). The
total estimated value of damages; US $2.56 billion (Approx. Rs.11300 crore) and total estimated need for long-term recovery us $2.1
billion (Approx. Rs.9240 crore).
After the Andaman and Nicobar islands, the state of Tamil Nadu was the worst affected. Tamil Nadu has a coastline of 1,076 km
(12% of the total coastal length of the country) of which 60km is on the west coast (Kanniyakumari district). The devastating waves
that lashed several coastal districts of the state (Chennai, Tiruvallr, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur,
Thoothukudi, Raamanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari, Pudukottai and Villupuram) left at least 7995 dead and rendered
thousands of people homeless. More than 10 lakh people were directly or indirectly affected by the tsunami in Tamil Nadu. The
majority of those affected had fisheries and farm-based livelihoods or were employed in associated enterprises. While fisheries were
the worst hit, crops and livestock also suffered substantial losses.
DISTRICT WISE COASTLINE OF TAMIL NADU
District Coromandel Palk-Bay Gulf of Mannar West Coast Total km
Chennai 19.00 19.00
Tiruvallur 27.90 27.90
Kancheepuram 87.20 87.20
Villupuram 40.70 40.70
Cuddalore 57.50 57.50
Nagapattinam 124.90 63.00 187.90
Tiruvarur 47.20 47.20
Thanjavur 45.10 45.10
Pudukottai 42.80 42.80
Ramanathpuram 95.80 141.00 236.80
Thoothukudi 163.50 163.50
Tirunelveli 48.90 48.90
Kanniyakumari 11.50 60.00 71.50
Total 357.20 293.90 364.90 60.00 1076.00
IMPACT AND DAMAGE IN TAMILNADU
When the tsunami struck, the beautiful beaches, holy shrines, historical and tourism spots spread all along the coast were devastated
and reduced to mere debris. Huts and pucca houses were flattened, fishing boats smashed, and buses, cars and big tankers were strewn
around. An extremely high death toll occurred within a span of few minutes. The fisher folk living along the coast bore the brunt of
the giant waves. Many lost their lives and most their livelihood. The shock of the tragedy left many traumatized. Amidst the tragedy,
examples of tremendous resilience and success also emerged.
LIVES LOST AND
No of No of affected Human
villages kuppams Population of the district by Population lives Persons Orphaned Women
S.No District affected affected as per 2001 census tsunami Evacuated lost injured children widowed
1 Chennai 4 25 4343645 73000 30000 206 9 35
2 Cuddalore 8 43 2285395 99704 61054 610 259 12 78
3 Kancheepuram 30 44 2877458 100000 60000 130 24 9 17
4 Kanniyakumari 16 33 1676034 187650 46280 799 754 3 106
5 Nagapattinam 38 73 1488839 196184 196184 6065 2375 179 294
6 Pudukottai 25 29 1459601 66350 4857 15
7 Ramanathapuram 40 114 1187604 84000 8315 20 2 4
8 Thanjavur 22 2216138 29278 4600 37 482 2
9 Tiruvallur 6 38 2754756 15600 29 6
10 Tiruvallur 29 3 3 14
11 Tirunelveli 10 2723988 27948 11170 4 6 1 1
12 Thoothukudi 23 1572273 110610 11625 3 1
13 Villupuram 8 19 2960373 78240 37500 48 46 5
Total 230 418 28715578 1068564 471585 7995 3960 197 561
The complex interaction between water-borne energy, seabed and terrestrial terrain meant that the effects of the tsunami were different
from place to place in the east coast and the west coast of Tamil Nadu. The monster waves redefined the coastline. As many as 230
villages and 418 kuppams (hamlets), spread across 13 coastal districts were flattened completely. Many productive assets of
fishermen, agriculturists and other micro-enterprise owners living along the coasts were all either swept away or made non-functional.
About 1.18 lakh huts and houses were affected, 945 people went missing, 3960 people ere injured and 4.7 lakh people were evacuated
from their homes. People lost their belongings and property. Around 7995 persons, a majority of whom ere women and small
children-lost their lives. 197 children, were rendered orphans and 561 omen were widowed.
Nagapattinam, Kanyakumari, Cuddalore, Kanchipuram, Villupuram and Chennai districts ere the most severely affected. The other
districts were moderately affected. Nagapattinam was the worst hit, accounting for about 76% of the deaths in the State, besides
heavy loss of cattle, houses and property. When the monstrous waves lashed against the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, there was no
alert mechanism, which would have provided enough time for emergency evacuation. The worst hit victims ere from the defenseless
poorer sections living in low-lying areas, many of whom were simply sucked into the sea. Many of the dead were the old, the infirm,
women and children who were caught completely unawares as giant waves quickly engulfed several settlements. Entire families were
wiped out in one sweep.
Women were most unprepared to save themselves and their children. Busy with household chores and caring for the children, they
lost precious moments initially. They also had to pick up their children and run. In many instances, women died because their hair
got caught in thorny trees (karuvelam tree) found along the coast. There were cases where women would not free themselves from
entangled saris because they did not want to be seen naked and as a result they died. Some people got trapped in the beach sands and
in broken structure.
LOST AND DAMAGED PROPERTY
District Cattle Houses Land land Boats
Partially Fully Mechanised Fishing
Damaged Damaged Total Catamarans Vallams Boats Nets
Chennai 2 16839 16839 1493 169 568 2992
Cuddalore 949 544 2328 2872 1925.48 196.51 5530 862 505 4935
Kancheepuram 4 898 3702 4600 248.48 1994 784 19 8 2873
Kanniyakumari 1187 3953 3379 7332 12.57 9.7 6582 694 385 7236
Nagapattinam 12821 2169 17461 19630 4657.47 456.98 6144 1761 869 7604
Pudukottai 191 473 30 2342
Ramanathpuram 0 290 180
Thanjavur 3 3 47 232 522
Tiruvallur 220 516 570 2888
Tiruvarur 716 716 19 19
Tirunelveli 899 1285 82 1160
Thoothukudi 630 630 644 600 2203
Villupuram 106 834 940 1616.34 6.63 1691 1017 26 3223
16082 7670 45892 53562 8460.34 669.82 26117 3402 4170 2391 38177
Large numbers of livestock – cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, and poultry – were also killed, resulting in huge economic loss. 16,082
cattle were lost in the state, with Nagapattinam recording the highest loss of 12,821.
Fishing and its related activities are of economic importance along the Tamilnadu coast. Apart from actual fishing, fisheries-related
activities such as fish marketing, fish transport, loading, unloading, and other labor associated with fish handling; fish processing
(drying and curing), boat making and repair, net making and repair, repair of engines, etc. are important sources of employment and
livelihood. In the past two decades, there has also been an increase in aquaculture along the coast, particularly of shrimp.
Apart from death and the destruction of houses, fishing implements, thousands of boats and catamarans were damaged or destroyed.
15,522 catamarans, 357 vallams, 513 FRP (fibre reinforced plastic) catamarans and 383 mechanized boats were fully damaged.
10,595 Catamarans, 3813 vallams, 2889 FRP boats and 2008 mechanized boats were partially damaged. This apart, there was
extensive damage to the fishing harbors, fish landing centers, auction centers, trading centers and installations all over the coast.
Damage o ice plants, marine repair shops and other trades were also reported.
Other sources of livelihood along the coast include agriculture, marketing of agriculture produce, supplying inputs for agriculture,
animal husbandry and livestock rearing, production of salt from salt pans, petty trade, money lending, basket making and masonry.
8,460.34 hectres of agricultural land and 669.82 hectares of horticultural land was affected. Damage also resulted from salinisation of
Out of 414 totally damaged public buildings, 91 were school buildings, 71 related to health services, 7 were public health services, 7
were public office buildings, 114 were cyclone shelters and 131 under the Animal Husbandry Department. Roads accessing affected
villages and towns were badly damaged.
The sheer magnitude of the impact initially destroyed much of the communication and transport infrastructure in the affected coastal
areas. Lack of electricity, poor drainage and lack of drinking water plagued the already distressed people. Open ells, infiltration ells
and bore wells were blocked by silt. Pump rooms either got washed away or were damaged. Pipe connections broke and electrical
installations were damaged. Sanitary complexes, libraries, village gymnasiums, bus shelters, metal roads, cement roads, black topped
roads, electrical posts, community temples, halls and stages, post offices, ration shops, balwadis, water supply lines, school buildings,
bridges, highways and stadium light posts were either partially or fully destroyed. Two Government Hospitals and several Primary
Health Centres and Health Sub-Centres were badly decimated.
VALUES OF DAMAGES:
Rs (in crore)
Damage caused to
mechanized boats, country
engines fishing harbours etc 1054.06
Damage caused by sea
erosion and inundation of
Nagapattinam district 449.00
Damage caused to
Panchayat and Panchayat
and street light
offices,noon meal centres,
Damage caused to
highways,roads and bridges 380.64
Damage caused to minor
ports at Cuddalore,
Nagapattinam and Colachel 74.70
Damage caused to
maintained by P.W.D 8.50
Damage caused to Tamil
Nadu Electricity Board
Damage caused to water
supply systems like
infiltration wells, open wells,
bore wells etc maintained by
Damage caused to beach
resorts and hotels
maintained by Tamil Nadu
Damage to crops 76.80
Damage caused to ferry
services run by Poompuhar
Shipping Corporation at
Damage caused to godowns
run by Tamil Nadu
Warehousing Corporation 0.27
Damage caused to Salt
Damage caused to
Anganwadi Centres 1.41
Damage caused to
protected monuments of
Tamil Nadu Archaeological
Damage caused to food
grains stored in the godowns
of Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies
Corporation at Port godown,
Although the unprecedented scale of human death, homelessness, displaced population and damage was more confined to rural areas
rather than key economic and densely populated urban centers and industrial hubs, the economic impact was felt severely at the local
and community levels, dragging hundreds of thousands of already poor people into even deeper levels of penury.
By noon, all that remained of the coast were human bodies strewn across the roads, torn fishing nets, mangled remains of catamarans,
fiberglass boats with outboard motors, cracked country boats and pushcarts, mounds of debris and knee-deep cesspools. Those who
managed to survive had become refugees in their own land, searching for their kith and kin and belongings.
The eastern coast of India has often been threatened by calamities like cyclone, storm and flood, but the tsunami was something that
defied every bit of preparedness, by the government and by the people.
The entire coastline of 187.9 km (including Palk Bay) was affected. Maximum loss of life was reported in Nagapattinam district
alone. 6065 human lives were lost, which is around 76% of the total reported death figure in the State. Also, the highest figures of
179 orphans and 294 widows were reported in this district. Keechankuppam, Akkaraipettai, Seruthur, Velankanni, Pattinachery,
Nagore, Tharangambadi, Poompuhar, Tirumallaivasal and Pazhayar were some of the worst affected areas. The approach roads to the
fishing hamlets of Kechankuppam and Akkaraipettai ere totally blocked due to fallen trees and electricity posts. Besides, vehicles and
fishing boats that had been tossed by the huge waves losses in Nagapattinam. Most of the affected land was cultivated with paddy, a
very labour intensive crop, that employs an average of 10-15 persons per hectare during the period of cultivation for land preparation,
planting, harvesting, etc.
In South Poigainallur village, the force of tsunami waves broke through the drain provided for agricultural water, and destroyed part of
the manmade sand dune. While the death toll in Akkaraipettai and Velankanni was in thousands, the loss of life in South Poigainallur
was very limited. This is because the villagers have relied on their ancestral knowledge of maintaining mangroves to protect their
agricultural land from seawater infiltration for over 500 years.
The tsunami inundated the field with seawater and sand. Once the seawater entered entered the agricultural lands, it stagnated because
the unaffected parts of the dunes held the water from receding. The farmers rely on the land for their livelihood. Sale of vegetables
was a very lucrative business prior to the tsunami. Post tsunami, revenue dwindled considerably to about 2 lakh rupees from about 8-
10 lakh rupees.
A sizeable number of tourists and devotees who had been to Velankanni church on account of Christmas (the previous day), and had
been on the shore just after the Sunday mass, were swallowed by the killer waves. The water distribution system was damaged and
water supply was also affected. The damages due to tsunami had a cascading effect on the coastal economy and religious tourism in
places like Velankanni and Nagore.
The salt industry in Vedaranyam was particularly affected. The copious inflow of seawater into an estimated 20,000 hectares of
agricultural land in areas adjacent to the coastal region caused heavy loses to agriculturists, who had already suffered a difficult time
during the past four years owing to drought followed by heavy floods. Paddy crops that were ripe for harvest perished.
The beaches in and around Nagapattinam town, and the district headquarters, were inundated. In the harbour, boats were flung around
pell-mell. Nagapattinam General Hospital was flooded, most of its equipment badly damaged and the receding water left behind sand
and slush several feet deep in the ground floor rooms. Tharangambadi sub-district hospital, in Nagapattinam district, was also flooded
and badly damaged. Some of the worst affected PHCs, such as those in Velankanni and Poompuhar, also lie Nagapattinam district.
The fisheries sector suffered very severe damages never before witnessed in the district. 7604 units of nets, 6144 wooden catamarans,
1761 vallams and 869 mechanized boats were damaged apart from extensive damages to fish landing centers and Nagapattinam port.
There have been several tales of horror, sorrow, bravery and grief. In Chinnangudi village, a woman aged 75 years was running away
with her 80 year old husband. The old man fell down but urged his wife to run away. He himself could not get up and died where he
fell. Unable to accept this reality, the woman spent 24 hours with the dead body of her husband. Among the stories that bring a lot of
hope saved 12 children and of another woman who saved 12 children. There were also cases of bitterness between spouses. Some
wives were sore that their husbands did not save their dying children. Besides, they were also gripped with a feeling of helplessness
and guilt for not having done enough to save their children themselves.
Kannniyakumari district is on the tip of the Indian sub-continent and was lot fortunate to have the protective cover of Sri Lanka when
the tsunami struck on that fateful day. Even earlier, this district had very thickly populated coastal habitations and Kanniyakumari
fishermen were known for their skills and die-hard attitude. They fished deeper, farther and longer than the other fishermen from
other parts of Tamil Nadu. Kanniyakumari suffered the largest death toll next to Nagapattinam with 799 people dead. Extensive
damage was caused to the boats, nets and boat yards. Thousands of big boats were tossed leaving the generally better-off fishermen
Heavy damage was caused to the West Coast from Kanniyakumari to Kodimunai and the bridge connecting Mela Manakudi and
Keela Manakudi villages was completely washed away, leaving only the pillars. Having a higher percentage of fishermen among the
working population, the mood in the district was gloomy and desparate. The life giving sea had become life threatening within a
Cuddalore is a large industrial town. It has a large number of industries that employ much of the city’s population. The district of
Cuddalore was heavily damaged by the tsunami waves, 610 people died and many were still missing. Several fishing hamlets simply
disappeared. Many villages were cut off from the rest since the roads were either washed away or covered with debris. The famous
Silver Beach and the historic Cuddalore Port were devastated.
At several places in Cuddalore district, huge waves burst water pipelines disrupting water supply, and in other places the seawater
incursion made both surface and ground water saline and unpotable. Fishermen, prawn/crab and fish seedling farm owners, fish
transport owners, ice-manufacturing units, all suffered loss of income. Horticulture activities in Cuddalore were also affected. The
entire village of MGR Thittu was reduced to a rubble. More than 80 persons died in this village alone.
Nearly 128 boats were lost in this village. “We usually keep all the nets and fishing accessories on the beach. Boats cost anything
between Rs.70,000 – 80,000, the engine about Rs.35,000 – 40,000 and the different kinds of nets about Rs.1-1.25 lakh. “We have lost
everything. In spite of having a diploma in Mechanical Engineering I was fishing for a living. As I was unemployed. Now even that
is gone. It is hopeless”, rued young Kumeresan, a totally dejected youth.
As many as 23 coastal villages were affected in Thoothukudi. The magnitude of havoc caused by the tsunami was similar in all
respects to the other districts except in loss of human life which was comparatively less. About 6 taluks were located along the 120km
stretch of South East Coast of Tamil Nadu. Fishermen are the dominant community in these villages and a majority of the population
depended upon fishing for their livelihood. 600 vallams, 644 catamarans and 409 fiberglass boats, engaged in fishing activities and
the shelters in the fishing communities were extensively damaged.
The residential areas situated along the coastline in Tondiarpet, Mylapore, Triplicane, Foreshore estate, Nochikuppam and Royapuram
Fishing Harbour were badly affected. Kids playing on the world’s second largest beach, the Marina, along the coastline ere rudely
tossed by the waves. Soon Marina beach was a vast street of water with floating cars, boats and debris. 206 persons including a few
tourists were killed in Chennai.
In Kancheepuram district, nearly 44 kuppams in 30 revenue villages were affected leaving a population of nearly one lakh stranded.
The destruction was so severe that several pucca houses were flattened and fishing boats smashed. The East Coast Road saved many
habitations lying to the west but the smaller coastal hamlets became deathbeds and 130 persons died in the district.
The nuclear atomic power plant at Kalapakkam has always been a sensitive area. Though seawater entered the power plant, the
authorities promptly dispelled fears of danger.
In Ramanathapuram district, six huts of fishermen at Thondi village were fully damaged and two people lost their lives. Though not
many lives were lost when compared to other districts, quite a number of fishing implements were lost depriving people of their
TIRUNELVELI, THANJAVUR, TIRUVALLUR, TIRUVARUR, VILLUPURAM AND PUDUKOTTAI
In Tirunelveli district, 13 hamlets were affected and 5626 families were exposed to the high tide risk zone, forcing them to consider
relocation to safer places.
In Thanjavur district, the tsunami caused extensive damage to 22 seashore villages in Pattukottai and Peravurani taluks. A 9-year-old
boy who was playing by the seashore near his house died. About 37 people who had traveled to Nagapattinam and Kanniyakumari
districts lost their lives there. Besides, 47 catamarans, 232 vallams and 40,692 kg of fishing nets were damaged.
About 29 people lost their lives in Tiruvallur district. Large amounts of fishing implements suffered damage. More severe was the
loss of livelihood of many families sustaining on fishing in places like Pulicat.
29 people lost their lives and 3 people were injured in Tiruvarur district, 48 people lost their lives and 46 people were injured in
Villupuram district. More than 18 habitations were severely affected by tsunami, which has put the fear of death and destruction in
the heart of these families.
15 people lost their lives in Pudukottai district. Though not directly affected, many boats lying in fishing harbors could not go out to
sea for many months leading to loss of livelihood.
In the past, Tamil Nadu has had considerable experience in tackling disasters. Since some of the districts in Tamil Nadu are prone to a
variety of hazards. A Disaster Risk Management Programme is being implemented in several districts. The state has a Disaster
Mitigation Plan to tackle situations arising out of flood, cyclone and drought-phenomena with which the State is familiar. But the
tsunami of 2004 took the State and its people by surprise; it was unprecedented, ferocious and devastating. A calamity of this nature
had never been known.
A Concerted effort: Prompt decisions and speedy action was the key principle
Despite the total shock and suddenness of the event, with no forewarning whatsoever, the Hon’ble CM immediately asked the District
Administration in all the districts to take up the task with utmost commitment and dedication so that search and rescue operations were
initiated at once. She undertook extensive surveys of the affected areas to galvanize the administration and gather first hand
information. Rescue and relief operations were in full swing very soon, as a result of the joint efforts of the District Collectors and the
officials of the Revenue Department the Rural Development and Municipal Administration Departments, the Police forces, Fire and
Rescue services. Medical and Health services and all other associated departments to provide timely help to the affected people. The
Army, Navy, Air Force and the coast Guard fully supported the operations of the district administrations. The State Government
stationed senior Ministers and IAS officers in the affected areas and speeded up the usually time-consuming process of issuing orders
needed for implementation of relief measures. The Revenue, Rural Development, Health and Municipal Administration departments
deputed large number of officers and staff from the unaffected areas to the more affected districts of Nagapattinam, Kanniyakumari
and Cuddalore. The Collectors were provided with ready funds to take spot decisions with no time lost I handling the emergency.
SEARCH, RESCUE AND RELIEF
The responsibility of the government in a tragedy of this magnitude is colossal. Some of the immediate concerns of the government
were to: search and recover the dead bodies and arrange for their cremation/burial; search and rescue survivors from the debris; offer
first aid and medical assistance to the injured; provide food, water and sanitation for the affected families in more than 400 relief
camps remove debris and clean up the environment; prevent epidemics, distribute immediate relief packages announced by the
Government; restore essential services like health centers, hospitals, electricity, water supply, roads communication, transport; and,
help the traumatized population to cope with the loss and return to normalcy as quickly as possible.
To meet the above challenges, the State undertook prompt and methodical action. Thousands of officers and staff worked round the
clock. The relief operations were divided into three phases. The first phase consisted of search, rescue and evacuation, organizing
cremation/burial of the dead and organizing relief camps. The second phase focused on providing immediate relief and the third phase
on permanent rehabilitation. The entire administration was galvanized by the State into an effective machinery top provide relief and
succour to the affected persons.
The thrust of immediate action was towards retrieval of dead bodies, evacuation of people to relief camps, provision of temporary
shelters and planning long-term actions. This extraordinary effort enabled relocating all the affected families to safer places and
providing them with sustenance in the relief camps. Simultaneously search and rescue operations were undertaken on a war footing.
Most of the dead bodies that were identified were handed over to the next of kin of the deceased. Procedures for issuing death
certificates and obtain compensatory payments were streamlined and speeded up so that the survivors were spared of additional
suffering. Unidentified bodies were first kept in mortuaries; later, photographs of these bodies were taken to enable identification, so
that the bodies could then be buried before putrefaction set in. Public traffic was curtailed in the tsunami-hit areas to protect the
properties of the affected people left behind.
The Government acted immediately to provide platform for the NGOs to chennelise their efforts. An NGO coordination centre was
set up in each district to systematize Government-NGO partnership in the rescue and relief work for the tsunami affected. This was
extremely sensitive and delicate activity. These centers helped in streamlining resources and materials that poured in from NGOs,
voluntary organizations public from all sectors and corporates thus achieving a broader service base and extensive outreach of the
relief activities. The State Government issued orders to pave the way for the NGOs to participate in reconstruction activities such as
housing and community infrastructure in a systematic manner under the Comprehensive Village Development Model. These orders
while allowing for freedom to the NGOs to choose their interventions also assured them of full support by the Government in
providing land and fulfilling other gaps which some of them would find difficult to bridge. NGO coordination has also been useful in
the rehabilitation phase. The main features of NGO coordination were:
More than 500 NGOs/INGO’s came forward to work in the affected places
Cordial relationship of the State/District Administrations with the NGOs /INGOs from day one.
Daily co-ordination meetings were conducted with NGOs/INGOs to sort out issues without loss of time.
An NGO coordination centre was set up in a prominent place in each District Collect orate with NGO representatives
managing the centre themselves.
NGO/INGO relief material was coordinated smoothly; The NGOs constructed about 55% of the temporary shelters.
NGOs are involved in the construction of over 32,000 permanent shelters right now.
The active participation by the NGOs/INGOs/CSOs resulted in unmatched relief work and improved the implementation
standards, their constant feedback ensured help to every needy family.
HEALTH AND SANITATION
All the injured and affected were rushed to the hospitals. Except a few cases of orthopedic injuries, most of the 3000 in-patients
admitted to Medical Colleges Hospitals and district hospitals suffered only minor injuries and simple ailments like myalgia, fever,
LRI, etc. The local medical personnel along with the special teams deputed from the Medical Colleges were in a position to take
care of the patients already admitted in the hospitals. The entire state machinery was geared up and started functioning for
immediate medical care under the direct supervision of respective Joint Directors of Health Services and District Collectors.
Severely injured patients were hospitalized as inpatients and the mildly injured treated as outpatients.
Because of the sudden influx of patients into hospitals, the infrastructure was over stretched and most of the patients had to be
accommodated in the corridors of hospitals. To provide basic facilities, bed sheets, blankets, mattresses, pillows and pillow covers
were urgently procured. In addition to the above, disinfectants like phenyl, bleaching powder and chlorine tablets were procured
in large quantities to prevent outbreak of epidemics in the relief centers.
Teams of medical personnel were formed each having a Medical Officer, a Block Health Supervisor, a Health Inspector and a
Village Health Nurse to provide clinical support. They carried out disinfections and chlorination work; provide immediate
medical attention for injuries, diarrhea, fever and other diseases. They gave intensive medical care to the injured. Ex-gratia
payment to the injured was arranged. Support from Indian Medical Association members and private hospital was also sought.
The Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine carried out immunization against polio, measles and Vitamin A deficiency.
The world Bank aided Integrated Child Development Services III ensured meals thrice a day, milk for children, adolescent girls, and
neonatal and postnatal mothers through community kitchens till 16th February 2005.
Sanitary officials, paramilitary agencies and voluntary organizations removed human corpses immediately without any hesitation or
fear of being infected. They removed decaying human corpses effectively and immediately in a very short span of time preventing
proliferation of infectious diseases along the entire coastal stretch. Mass graves were dug in several places. A burial and disinfections
procedure including the use of bio-agents to aid faster decomposition brought from Gujarat was followed that prevented foul smell
and the spread of infections in the area.
The mental health of the tsunami affected people was as much a matter of concern as their physical health. There was hardly a person
in the affected area who had not lost a close relative or a friend in the disaster. Besides, a large number of them had lost their homes
and belongings. Grief and depression was widespread. The phenomenon, which struck so suddenly, had left behind shock and fear all
Right from day one, people trained in psychosocial care were called in to work alongside those who cared for the physical health of
the people. Doctors and counselors from various organizations, medical and psychiatric institutes contributed their knowledge and
experience to help relieve the mental distress in the worst affected areas like Kanniyakumari, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam.
The counseling set up that emerged had community volunteers at the ground level who were in personal touch with the affected, those
whose trauma went deeper than they could cope with were cared for by trained medical personnel and the really complicated cases
were sent to psychiatrists.
SAFE EVACUATION AND DEBRIS CLEARANCE
Tsunami affected people living along the coast were moved to safer places in transport buses and vehicles of the Department of Fire
and Rescue services I time. The fire and rescue Services team, in collaboration with the other departments and under the supervision
of the District Collectors, removed corpses from time to time without any delay. The department also safely rescued a number of
fishing assets that were stranded in the inland waters and sea beaches and entrusted them to the owners.
The affected people were given shelters in more than 400 temporary camps. These camps were set up in safer
places far away from the high tide prone areas. The inmates of he relief camps were provided first aid, food, clothing and medicines
as an immediate relief measures. Many voluntary organizations too participated in the relief activities and provided them clothing,
Food, packets, utensils, etc. Children were provided with milk in the mornings and evenings.
The various departments of the Government coordinated their efforts to provide immediate support to the affected families. The
Revenue Department provided financial assistance for necessary relief material; the Department of Rural Development provided
temporary shelters; Municipalities and Panchayats were responsible for shelters, food, disposal of dead bodies, electricity supply, and
drinking water, fogging for mosquito control and sanitation; the Health and Family Welfare Department provided medical and rural
health services. IT also provided ex-gratia payment for those with minor injuries besides giving psychotherapy treatment to the
traumatic with the support of NGOs and other medical institutions. The Tamil Nadu Water Supply & Drainage Board in coordination
with UNICEF temporarily installed HDPE tanks till normal water supply was restored.
The government also provided relief material like rice, sugar, sarees, lunges, towels, bed sheets, cooking oil, bath soap, washing soap,
mats, stainless steel tumblers, plates, vessels, old and new clothes, vegetables, biscuits, breads, medicines, plastic containers, fruits,
water bags, toothpastes, brushes, buckets, pitchers and lanterns.
CLEAN WATER SUPPLY
Seawater flooded the coastal areas up to a distance of 3 km contaminating most of the drinking water sources.
This would have triggered an epidemic. Till potable water supply could be restored, safe drinking water was supplied to the affected
population. As an immediate measure, HDPE tanks were installed in all the affected villages and the relief centers and drinking water
supplied through water tankers.
In all the affected rural habitations and municipalities, water supply was provided to the public through the direct
tankers supplies and the quality was tested. Water sample in Tsunami affected areas were also collected and tested to study and ensure
the portability of the sources, Contaminated water was disinfected.
Electricity supply was restored within three days in rural areas. Workmen were sent to disconnect faulty portions
of all electrical networks. Officers went around to assess the extent of damage and location where the supply could not extended. The
central governments ministry of Non-conventional energy sources and the Tamil Nadu energy development agency provided 4000
solar lanterns for interior areas.
PROVIDING VITAL INFORMATION
To disseminate information to the press and the general public, a control room was immediately set p in the Office
of the state Relief Commissioner. The BSNL also came forward to provide a toll free line in the control room of the state relief
Commissioner. Similar control rooms were set up in the collectorates of all the affected areas. A missing persons cell under an
additional superintendent of police was opened at each districts police office In all the affected areas. All photographs of dead bodies
taken during the operations were consolidated and made available on district wise websites of the government and respective Collect
orates. Missing person’s cells exhibited photographs of unidentified dead bodies. People flocked to this cell for the information about
their missing kith and kin. Grievance Redressal Machinery was activated to ensure that information about relief packages,
compensation and ex-gratia payment was available to the general public and they were not left in the dark.
RESTORATION OF TRANSPORT
The State Transport Corporations used their fleet in all the affected districts to ferry the affected people to various
places. Similarly on the instructions of the local revenue and police officials, people were brought back to the nearest relief camps set
up by the district administration. From the beginning of the disaster, corporate houses helped a lot by sending their cranes, trailers and
dozers to remove the boats and debris and clear access roads.
CARE OF LIVESTOCK
Most of the livestock died due to asphyxiation and droning. The staff of the animal Husbandry Department
arranged and supervised the burial of these carcasses scientifically using disinfectants to prevent outbreak of epidemic, hey gave relief
amounts for the loss of cattle, graved murrah, calves, goats and sheep. Injured animals were treated.
Since many cattle’s owners abandoned the animals in panic, Many cattle that were stranded in the affected areas
were removed and bought to various cattle camps organized at nearby veterinary intuitions where animals wre kept in safe custody.
These abandoned animals were provided fodder, clean water and necessary treatment. Tanker Lorries carried drinking water treated
with 5-ppm chlorine to the animals to prevent water-borne diseases.
The animals were returned to the owners after identification about 7,322 livestock were found abandoned and they
were housed in 57 camps organized for the purpose. Apart from organizing camps, medicines were mobilized to the needy places for
providing treatment to the injured and sick livestock on a war footing.
About 49 teams, each comprising an Assistant Director of Animal Husbandry, veterinary Assistants, were formed.
These teams visited the affected areas and undertook rescue and relief operations, advised the people on proper disposal of carcasses
and undertook work on a massive scale to prevent epidemics.
The animals were vaccinated against foot and mouth disease, black quarter, hemorrhagic Septicemia, PPR,
enterotoxaemia,, anthrax and ranikhet diseases. A total of 80,323 livestock were vaccinated. As a part of the rehabilitation work, to
overcome non-availability of grazing lands and fodder resources, the department organized supply of green and dry fodder to the
affected livestock. About 88 tones of fodder was supplied to livestock deserted by their owners. Necessary arrangements were made o
mobilize fodder from various sources like district livestock farms and centered at the cattle camps to be distributed to the affected
Special tams in the cadre of deputy collectors and other Departmental officials were formed to ascertain damages
to huts human life, cattle and the loss damage of catamarans, mechanized boats and fishing nets in the affected areas. Based on this
assessment temporary and permanent relief measures were planned.
REPONSE OF GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
In view of the devastating nature of tsunami and the substantial damages caused to the state, the Government of
Tamil Nadu sought the help of Government of India for taking up relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation programme at an
approximate cost of Rs. 48000 crore and 54,000 mts of food grains through a Memorandum submitted in the first week of January
2005. Besides offering all assistance, the Government of India quickly setup a Core Group for tsunami recovery and rehabilitation at
the Planning Commission, a High Level Committee and an Inter-Ministerial Central Team to facilitate assessment, development,
implementation and monitoring of the immediate, short and long term programmes and provide necessary guidance/approvals. The
central team visited Tamil Nadu 4-6th January 2005 and had expensive field visits and discussions with the tsunami affected people,
officials and NGOs. Based on the recommendations of the Central Team, the Government of India announced the approval of Rajiv
Gandhi Rehabilitation Package for tsunami-affected areas on 31st January 2005. A Joint Assessment Mission was also set up by
Government of India with the participation of funding agencies such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations
and Commonwealth Agencies. The Joint Assessment Mission conducted site visits from 5-25th February 2005 and submitted its report
to Government of India. The tsunami Rehabilitation Programme Report, which had been finalized by the Planning Commission in
consultation with the states, broadly outlined the impacts of the tsunami on the Indian sub-continent; defined the guiding principles for
the programme, summarized information about damage assessment provided by the
States/union Territories and the assistance sought for relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation and provided Central Assistance under
the Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation Package. It brought out the needs of areas where financial assistance was required for reconstruction
and rehabilitation and provided Programme Implementation Plan along with the Organizational Structure for the same. The
Programme sought to apply the following guiding principles in its implementation: environment friendly, egalitarian approach,
private sector and non-profit sector participation, gender empowerment, child welfare, structural and non-structural rehabilitation
measures, transparency and accountability.
Based on the comprehensive and objective assessment of rehabilitation needs, the following components for the
Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme were suggested by the Planning Commission:
i) housing repair and reconstruction,
iii) Livelihood support programmes covering credit support, subsidy to farm implements, animal husbandry, etc.
iv) Infrastructure repair and reconstruction covering power, communication, roads and bridges, ports and jetties, airports,
irrigation channels, water supply, etc.
v) Social and community development involving health, education, food and nutrition programmes, etc.
vi) Environment and coastal resource management that would involve setting up an Environment Management Plan and a
Coastal Zone Management Plan, and
vii) Disaster management such as setting up an early warning system.
RAJIV GANDHI REHABILITATION PACKAGE:
(Rs in crores)
Relief and Response CRF/NCCF 617.20
Fishermen subsidy CRF/NCCF 356.54+84.54
Loan Banks 566.47
Fishing Harbour Grant CRF/NCCF 9.94
The Government of Tamil Nadu also requested for coastal protection works like rubble mound seawalls, groynes and concrete
retaining walls at a cost of Rs. 5, 0 97 crore. Taking into consideration all the above, the High Level Committee of Government of
India approved Central assistance of Rs. 2347.19 crore under the Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation Packing for tsunami affected areas on
24th February 2005 covering the items mentioned in the table.
Besides the above, the Government of India provided guidance to all the Ministries under its control to extend maximum possible
assistance under the existing programmes to various departments of the State Government. The supply of solar lanterns by the
Ministry pf Non Conventional Energy Sources, the support extended by the Ministry of Rural Development, Department Water
Supply, Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Department of Ocean Development, etc. Were parts of the above initiatives
of the Government of India. The Central Government also announced the setting up of a Tsunami Warning Centre in the Indian
Ocean with the latest technology to be functional by the year 2007.
It was decided that the National Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad will be functioning as the Tsunami Warning Centre. Alerting
the state administrations will continue to be the responsibility of the Indian Meteorological Department.
The Central Government exempted steel and cement used for Tsunami houses from excise duty.
PROJECTS ASSISTED BY MULTILATERAL AGENCIES:
In response to the request from the Government of India for its post-tsunami recovery programme, the Asian Development Bank
(ADB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations (UN) and the World Bank provided a coordinated
response with clear demarcation of financing responsibilities of each agency. The assistance being provided by each of the
multilateral agencies is briefly described below:
ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB)
Tsunami Emergency Assistance Project was approved on 14th April 2005 with assistance package of US $200million (US$100 million
grant and US $100 million loan) for Tamil Nadu (US $ 143.75 million). The package primarily focused on rehabilitating and
reconstructing damaged or destroyed infrastructure (roads and bridges, ports and harbours, rural and municipal infrastructure) and
restoring livelihoods of those affected directly or indirectly by the tsunami. The ADB funded project will be implemented over a three
year period and will be completed in April 2008. Project components and funding are indicated in the table.
ADB TSUNAMI ASSISTANCE (SECTOR) PROJECT COMPONENTS
Component Project Funding (US $ million)
Component A: Livelihood 49.99
Component C (i) Water Supply and Sanitation 23.00
Component C (ii) Rural and Municipal
Component D: Capacity Building Support and
Implementation Assistance 3.21
INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD)
The IFAD support amounting to US$30.0 million loan aimed at building self reliant coastal communities, resilient to shocks, and
ability to manage their livelihood base in a sustainable manner through Coastal Area Resource Management, rural finance and risk
transfer instruments, employment generation and skills training, and community based sea safety and disaster management. The
IFAD support is available only for six districts in Tamil Nadu and is proposed to be implemented over a span of eight year period.
UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE
Sector US $ million
A. Moving from post disaster relief
Psychological Support 0.87
Social Reintegration to Address
Health and Nutrition 4.47
HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care 1.65
Sub-Total of A 8.54
B.Restoring livelihoods and upgrading
Rebuilding livelihoods 5.58
Shelter and habitat development 4.51
Water supply, sanitation and hygiene 0.56
Sub-Total of B 10.65
C.Prospective risk reduction
Healthy environment for long term security and sustainability 1.55
Capacity building for Disaster Risk Management 15.00
Sub-total of C 16.55
D.Policy support and coordination
Coordination support and knowledge networking 3.05
Information and communication
technology Included above
Sub total of D 3.05
UNITED NATIONS (UN)
The United Nations agencies under the coordination of the UNDP facilitated recovery of the affected populations through programmes
for (a) moving from post disaster relief to recovery (US $ 8.54 million), (b) restoring livelihoods and upgrading infrastructure (US $
10.65 million), (c) prospective risk reduction US $ 16.55 million) and (d) policy support and coordination (US $ 3.0 million) as
indicated in the following table.
The UN Country Team is responsible for implementation, and establishment of practices such as National, Direct and NGO execution
modalities with Government ownership.
Overall assistance to the tune of US $ 528.50 million including US $ 2.5 million grant is being provided to tsunami affected territories
in mainland India. In Andhra Pradesh the assistance (US $ 40.0 million) is mainly focused on livelihood recovery and reconstruction
of rural and municipal infrastructure and is being provided (US $ 10.0 million) for rural water supply through an ongoing credit. In
Tamil Nadu (US $ 423.0 million) and Pondicherry (US $ 42.0 million) the assistance is for housing reconstruction and infrastructure
to support livelihood recovery in fisheries sector and support to agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry sectors. Repair and
retrofitting of damaged public works are being provided in Tamil Nadu. Assistance (US $ 11.0 million) is also provided to strengthen
coastal roads through ongoing IBRD loans in Tamil Nadu. The grant of US$2.5 million is for the fisheries sector in Tamil Nadu and
Pondicherry. The World Bank funded assistance programme will be implemented over a three year period and will close in April
PROJECT COMPOENTS AND FUNDING FROM THE WORLD BANK
Component US $(million)
1.Housing Reconstruction 354.2
2. Restoration of Livelihood 27.9
3. Repair, reconstruction of Public
buildings and public works 19.5
4. Technical assistance and training 9.4
5. Implementation support 12
GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE- A SNAO SHOT DETAILS OF ASSISTANCE
Details of Assistance benefited given
(Rs. In Crores)
Ex-gratia of Rs.1lakh to the next of kin of dead persons
a) from CMPRF 6691 66.91
b)from PMNRF 6065 60.65
Relief Package of Rs.4912/-per family who lost
their huts and houses 118586 58.25
Debris removal, arrangements for the burial of
the dead etc 7.85
Relief Package of Rs.2912/-per family who lost
their livelihood and employment 176484 52.04
Exgratia to injured persons 3385 1.80
Relief package of assistance consisting of
Trunk box, Stove and Stainless steel kudam 115987 7.04
Sustenance allowance to affected
families@Rs.1000/- each for 4 months 277760 151.40
Exgratia payment to the families at
Kannakinagar/Okkiyam Thoraipakkam 1186 0.12
Replacement of gillnets for
Vallams/Catamarans 38177 36.10
Repair/rebuilding/replacement of catamarans 29512 49.98
Repair/rebuilding/replacement of vallams 4170 7.13
Repair/rebuilding/replacement of mechanised
boats 2391 47.96
Repairs of Engines(OBM/IBE) 2776 1.39
Repairs/reconstruction of fishing harbours,
jetties and boat yards 12.56
C) CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF TEMPORARY SHELTERS
Provision of temporary shelters by
Government 14343 11.47
Provision of temporary shelters by NGOs 18035
Repair of temporary shelters 2.71
Provision of water supply, Electricity,Lighting
etc to temporary shelters 4.65
D) AGRICULTURAL/HORTICULTURE/ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Relief to crop damages 10393 0.84
Subsidy to prawn/crab farm, fish
seeding/transport owners, ice manufactures,
etc 11387 4.10
Relief to Horticultural lands affected by
Tsunami 2098 0.67
Relief to loss of livestock 12490 1.76
E) TRADERS/SMALL SCALE INDUSTRIES
Relief to petty/mobile traders and shop owners 3762 0.75
Subsidy to prawn/crab farm, fish
seeding/transport owners, ice manufactures,
etc 40 0.13
Relief to small scale industries (SSI) units 143 units 0.78
Relief to coir units of Kanyakumari 0.03
Relief to big traders at Nagapattinam 1.91
F) OTHER AFFECTED SECTIONS:
Amount sanctioned for distribution of Text
books, note books etc 105264 1.31
Amount sanctioned for uniforms to students 136999 2.91
Payment of amount to the children who lost
their parents 1.15
Amount settled to educational institutions
towards tuition and special fees 10.18
Amount sanctioned to TNCSC for loss and
Payment to the building owners for the
Relief for undergoing recanalisation operation 8 0.02
2. Service Homes at Nagapattinam and
Kanniyakumari 39 0.42
3.Government Orphanages at Cuddalore,
Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari 175 0.48
G) HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Assistance to TNEB/TWAD and Poompuhar
Shipping Corporation for damages suffered 24.75
Cost of land acquisation for construction of
Assistance for immediate repair of Highways
and other roads 41.52
Funds for damaged Anganwadi centres 0.47
Funds for repair of 16 Noon meal centres 0.03
Providing Public address system at
Nagapattinam district 0.10
Construction of temporary bridge connecting
Melamanakudy and Keelamanakkudy 0.68
Construction of Rubble Mound Sea Protection
wall in Kanniyakumari District 1.50
Assistance for restoration of cross bunds in
Ramanathapuram District-Amount released to
Tamil Nadu Salt Corporation Ltd 0.10
In the melee and panic that followed the tsunami, the victims had to leave their belongings like clothes, utensils, documents, etc and
escape from the wrath of the giant waves. Many of the affected people including children, women and youth suffered from fear
psychosis. The government, in its mammoth efforts to bring back normalcy, first rushed in with immediate necessities like food,
water and shelter. It then geared up to offer temporary relief to those who had turned pauper with one whoosh of a wave.
The package of relief offered by the State Government was intended not only to provide immediate and temporary relief but also a
long term and permanent rehabilitation to enable the victims to turn a new lease of life with confidence to eke out a decent and
dignified living which will enable them to forget the traumatic and heart rending loss of close kith and kin and damage of income
sustaining tools and implements. Depending upon the damage caused, relief was announced in different packages.
RELIEF TO FAMILIES OF THE DECEASED
A relief of Rs. 1 lakh for every deceased person was paid to the next of the kin in the family from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief
Fund. In addition, Rs.1 lakh was sanctioned from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of deceased persons.
As many as 945 persons were reported missing. The Government of Tamil Nadu issued instructions relaxing the legal requirement of
7-year disappearance for claiming death relief so that partial relief could be availed by the kin of missing persons.
F TO INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
Relief to families Relief to injured Relief to orphaned Relief to widows Relief to SC/ST
Moderate Girlsab Ex
Severely ly Girls 14- ove18 gratia Pension
Rs.4912Pa Rs.2912 Injured@ Injured@ 18yrs@Rs.5 @Rs.3l @Rs.1l Sanctioned@
e Name of the District ckage package Rs.5000 Rs.5000 lakhs akhs akh
Children(0-14 years) Rs200 SC ST
Chennai 17805 26654 - 9 - - - 35 35 9650
Cuddalore 11854 8213 1 250 3 13 78 78 11115 653
Kancheepuram 7043 2818 24 1 9 17 4 447 69
Kanyakumari 26921 17170 5 708 4 13 3 106 5 206
Nagapattinam 39941 49885 35 2340 7 6 179 294 108 31575 0
Pudukottai 5637 765
Ramanathapuram 20847 2 1 1 4 3253 64
Thanjavur 3 5014 20 2
Thiruvallur 4140 12883 6 4 4792 837
Thiruvarur 2633 3 3 14 9 115
Tirunelveli 630 5924 6 1 1
Tuticorin 735 18880 1 1 1867
Villupuram 9500 46 1 5 5 4625 55
118572 176558 41 3408 16 33 197 561 250 68410 8
RELIEF TO THE INJURED
Loss of limbs and eyes incapacitates the victim’s ability to sustain normal income generating activities. Therefore, these victims
needed a reasonable monetary compensation to lead a respectful life with economic assistance from the Government. A financial
assistance of Rs.25, 000 was given to every victim who suffered loss of limbs and Rs.5000 for grievous injuries.
RELIEF TO THOSE RENDERED HOMELESS (RS 4912 PACKAGE)
This package consisted of one dhoti, one saree and two bed sheets, 60 kgs of rice, 3 litres of kerosene, Rs, 1000 for purchase of
condiments, oils, pulses, etc., Rs.1000 for utensils and stove, Rs.2000 for putting up a hut as a temporary measure, a separate
rehabilitation plan to permanently shift these families to nearby safer locations with their consent and co-operation to provide pucca
houses was also drawn up.
SUSTENANCE ALLOWANCE FOR FAMILIES
No. of families to
completed(i.e Value of
both cash and package given
kind@Rs.1356.50 (RS. in lakhs)
per family for the (No of families x
Name of District month of 1356.50/100000)
Feb-05 05 Apr-05 May-05 Total Total
Chennai 43484 43484 43393 43418 173779 2357.31
Cuddalore 20010 19999 19978 19978 79965 1084.73
Kancheepuram 9861 9861 9861 9861 39444 535.06
Kanyakumari 43073 43066 43054 43032 172225 2336.23
Nagapattinam 72738 68928 68897 72487 283050 3839.57
Pudukottai 5631 5631 5631 5631 22524 305.54
Ramanathapuram 20853 26507 26507 26507 100374 1361.57
Thanjavur 5017 5017 5017 5017 20068 272.22
Thiruvallur 16983 16976 16976 16976 67911 921.21
Thiruvarur 2633 2633 2633 2633 10532 142.87
Tirunelveli 6519 6526 6531 6348 25924 351.66
Tuticorin 19615 19615 19615 19555 78400 1063.5
Villupuram 9500 9500 9500 9500 38000 515.47
Total 275917 277743 277593 280943 1112196 15086.94
RELIEF WHERE LIVELIHOOD WAS LOST (RS 2912 PACKAGE)
This relief package was for the families of persons whose houses were not damaged but who lost their livelihood. This package
consisted of one dhoti, one saree and two bed sheets, 60 kgs of rice, 3 litres of kerosene, Rs.1000 for purchase of condiments, oils,
pulses, etc., and Rs.1000 for utensils and stove.
RELIEF TO FAMILIES AND SUSTENANCE ALLOWANCE
Family cards were distributed immediately to the families of the affected persons who had lost their belongings including family
cards. An additional 10 litres of kerosene to the cardholders from the month of January 2005 was announced.
Besides, the government released a sustenance allowance of Rs.1000 and 30 kg of rice, provisions, kerosene, etc., valued at rs.526 per
month for each family for four months from February to May 2005 to the tsunami-affected. About 3 lakh families benefited from this
Families rendered homeless were provided with temporary shelters valued at Rs.8000 each and improved later with Rs.2000 each.
Tamil Nadu Government provided 14,343 shelters and NGOs provided 18,035 shelters.
RELIEF TO FISHERMEN
The tsunami exacted a heavy toll on coastal communities and especially the fisher folk in the undertake fishing operations without loss
of time, a relief package consisting of the following was announced: replacement of gill nets for vallams (medium size boats) at
Rs.20,000 per unit, replacement of gill nets for catamaran at Rs.10,000 per unit, depending upon the extent of damage a sum of
Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 was given towards repair / rebuilding of catamarans. A separate package for providing outboard motors and
relief to mechanized boats and trawl nets that suffered damages was sanctioned.
RELIEF TO STUDENTS
Students in the affected areas who had lost their textbooks, notebooks and uniforms in the disaster were given free notebooks and
textbooks. The Director of Government Examinations and Universities issued duplicate certificates free of cost to the persons in the
affected areas who had lost their educational certificates, Students who had to relocate and get admitted in different schools were
promptly issued Transfer Certificates.
The tuition fees and special fees payable by the students of tsunami affected families for the period from 01.01.2005 to the end of the
academic year 2005-06 was ordered to be borne by the State Government. In addition, the students were exempted from payment of
examination fees from March 2005 to the end of academic year 2005-2006.
A separate public examination was held for the students studying in 121 tsunami-affected schools. This resulted in better pass
percentages of these students compared to the State average in both the 10th and Plus-Two exams. The percentage was 79.38
compared to 76.9 in Plus-Two and 81.31 to 77.81 in the Tenth Standard exams.
RELIEF TO ADOLESCENT GIRLS
Orphaned adolescent girls were admitted into service homes run by the State Government; Two new service homes were opened in
Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam districts. Unmarried orphaned girls over 18 years of age for upgrading their education.
RELIEF TO DESTITUE WOMEN
Before the tsunami, majority of the women and girl children were engaged in sustaining life and livelihood of their male fish workers
by taking care of their basic needs and that of the future generation. Traditionally, women of fishing communities have been playing
important roles in marketing fresh fish and processing surplus catch for sale at a later date. When tsunami struck, many of them were
left destitute. Women workers in processing, vending, auctioning and other fish related activities of the fishing communities were
offered special relief packages through the grants for purchase of lost assets and forming them into groups as they completely lost
their livelihood. Ongoing pension schemes were extended to cover all those rendered destitute by the calamity. Old age pension was
sanctioned to 242 persons, physically handicapped pension to 80, destitute widow pension to 380, destitute agricultural labourer
pension to 50 and destitute wives pension to 14, totaling 766 persons.
RELIEF TO FARMERS
Approximately 11,400 farmers were given relief for their damaged crops covering an extent of 5211.79 hectares. Towards
reclamation of sand cast and saline agricultural lands affected by tsunami a relief of Rs.12, 500 per hectare covering an extent of
8460.34 hectares was given. For the horticultural lands affected by tsunami a relief of Rs.12, 500 per hectare has been given for
Timely phasing out of the relief into recovery has been closely associated with the release of the rehabilitation assistance for
livelihoods and productive activities. Since the recovery of livelihoods is the foundation of rehabilitation, getting people back to work
was the key to getting the local economy moving again.
RELIEF TO ORPHANED CHILDREN
A number of children were rendered orphans by this tragedy. Al these children were adopted by the Government and were given adequate
protection. The Government opened Child Care Centres in the districts at Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Nagerkoil (Kanniyakumari) with facilities to
maintain a hundred children at each center. Caretakers and teachers were appointed to take care of the children at these centers. Play materials,
other equipment necessary for the development of the children besides medical facilities were provided at these centers.
The government made it clear that the State is not in favour of displacing these children but would only permit adoption of the orphaned children by
private individuals / organizations as per procedure already in force. Counselors were sent immediately to the affected areas to enable the
traumatized and aggrieved children to get psychological and emotional support to return to normal life at the earliest.
The State Government announced an unique scheme by which the State would invest a sum of Rs.5 lakh as fixed deposit in the name of each
orphaned child and orphaned adolescent girls rendered homeless. This amount will be available to them when they attain the age of 18 for further
studies, self-employment, etc.
PARTNERS IN ACTION: NGOS / INGOS / CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS IN TSUNAMI RELIEF AND REHABILITATION
The scale of the disaster was unprecedented and the response too was out of the ordinary, Relief poured in from government and non-
governmental organizations, religious organizations and corporates.
Fortunately, organizations with experience in disaster recovery realized that relief and rehabilitation that is uncoordinated is a disaster
by itself and, on the 1st of January 2005, an NGO coordination center was set up in Nagapattinam. Later, a similar center was
established in Kanniyakumari and a tsunami rehabilitation knowledge center was designated by the district administration to oversee
coordination of activities in Villupuram district.
The role of NGOs can be looked at from various angles. In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, the Tamil Nadu government took
the led in rescue and and relief operations with the State Relief Commissioner’s office working through the District Collectors. The
government machinery is systematic and centralized. Cabinet ministers and senior officers of the Government were sent to the field to
oversee rescue and relief. There were areas where the NGOs helped and their decentralized set-up made response time quicker. Also,
being tuned to the community’s immediate and actual requirements, NGOs were able to respond to specific needs – whether it was
food, utensils or hygiene kits. Their need based response really made relief faster. The relationships of NGOs with donor agencies
meant that funds were quickly made available; their relationships with corporate entities meant that sourcing of items such as large-
scale requirements of disinfection agents was faster as was the mobilizing of debris removing equipment such as bulldozers and
earthmovers. Similarly, some NGOs, because of their previous contacts and work with certain communities, were able to identify
those left out an attend to their needs. In general, it was easier for the administration to work with the NGOs for rapid response and to
ensure that the maximum numbers of affected people received due relief. It was easier for the NGOs to be effective because of the
support they received from the government.
Many NGOs have worked in the relief phase, setting up and/or repairing/refurbishing dozens of temporary shelters for those whose
homes were destroyed as well as providing them with some components of support such as food, medical aid, water su9pply, etc.
Some of them showed great speed in completing construction of permanent houses in the various districts as well as the medical and
other support provided for the needy. Groups working with children set up childcare centers and supported orphaned children as well
as those going to school with books and uniforms. They were also at the forefront in helping with trauma counseling.
Fishing communities were most affected with the loss of boats and engines. Some of the NGOs set up centers for boat and engine
repair as well as manufacture of boats, ensuring high quality of work done as well as in micromanaging construction activities and
livelihood restoration. NGOs worked for reclamation of salinated land in the tsunami affected areas paving the way for further
packages of assistance from Government.
There have been mixed reports of people getting multiple quanta of aid or of being left out. This is not really surprising considering
the number of players who poured into the affected areas offering relief. The NGOs made two-way information flow on the
requirements of the villages and the materials available with the Government. During the first month of relief operations, they ensured
at transparent relationship with the Government Officers on a daily basis, which then continued with regular meetings between the
NGOs and their organizations with the District Administrations, Sectoral groups such as for shelter, women, children, water and
sanitation – were organized with NGOs already working in those areas taking the lead. Important coprorates have also been active
using innovative technologies such as the setting up of desalination plants to provide drinking water to the communities, repair of
engines, desalination of salt affected lands, etc. The CII/Southern Region played a significant role in all these efforts.
In the rehabilitation phase, some of the NGOs have been promoting alternate technologies in building and alternate livelihoods by
conducting workshops and meetings to share expertise apart from their NGO coordination activities.
Shelter reconstruction is the largest ongoing activity in the rehabilitation phase. The Tamil Nadu government decided on certain
minimum requirements in terms of area of the house, ownership patterns, location and costs. With large numbers of organizations
coming forward to construct houses, the Tamil Nadu government decided to have formal MoUs (Memoranda of Understanding) with
the organizations wanting to participate. NGOs are able to work closer with the community and rebuild according to the community’s
requirements and aspirations. Quality control and adherence to guidelines is likely to be stricter and accountability better, as these are
relatively short-term activities.
It appears a nearly ideal mix – the blending of the short term quick and appropriate response by the non-governmental organizations
coupled with the wider coverage and sustained activities by the government – in responding to a disaster of the magnitude of tsunami.,
It is also clear that coordination and information sharing is essential right from zero hour on to ensure that resources (both human and
material) that are available are optimally used. Perhaps, the most important outcome of the tsunami disaster is the realization that
governments and non-governmental organizations can work in partnership and that too, successfully. As were approach the first
anniversary of the tsunami disaster, it is time to recapitulate, to see where the response was right and what was left out, where so that
the next time around, the response could be even better.
The relief phase was more people driven, family centered, providing for basic day-to-day and immediate needs of the affected
population. A breather to the tsunami affected in the form of temporary relief packages served to give them confidence to live and
strength to rebuild their lives. The ongoing rebuilding is however a much more complex procedure with well meaning, but conflicting
concerns and multiple stakeholders involved. To be able to quantify damage and do needs assessment sector by sector and to achieve
the desired clarity on issues regarding reconstruction and resettlement, permanent housing, livelihood and infrastructure, the timeline
and the content of rehabilitation, the state government held consultations with the beneficiaries, community leaders, local and district
administrators, representatives and donor organizations. This way the state could link the international and national experience (as in
post earth quake Gujarat) in handling post disaster reconstruction, and crystallize a policy informed by local conditions and customs.
A series of workshops and training porgrammes were also held on environmental and social management aspects, disaster
reconstruction, infrastructure needs assessment and appropriate technology for rebuilding infrastructure and houses in the tsunami
affected areas. Housing the homeless being the first priority, consultant engineers and other technical staff got together with
government officials in several workshops to detail guidelines for disaster reconstruction. The workshops aimed to create awareness
among field engineers and NGOs about the precautions to be taken for construction, testing of materials, quality control, quality
assurance, and other infrastructure like water supply, sanitation, road, rainwater harvesting, sanitary arrangements on construction site,
construction of rural roads and rigid pavement roads. It was emphasized that the houses should be disaster resistant.
The main feature of the housing project of the State government is that it is owner driven, giving besides a sense of safety, a sense of
belonging to the place and occupation. The fishermen communities in the tsunami-affected areas were faced with the tough decision
of balance between safety and livelihood. While safety concerns required them to move inland, their livelihoods forced them to be at
To resettle the affected, the Tamil Nadu Government formulated the housing policy under which permanent shelters will be built as
per the Coastal Regulation Zone notifications through public-private partnerships in terms of MOUs between the District Collectors
and NGOs/Corporates undertaking construction of houses in the respective districts. The State Government decided to give the newly
constructed houses worth Rs.1, 50,000 with a built up area of 325 sq.ft. each free of cost, to those fishermen who were ready to shift
beyond 200 m of the High tide line. Those who weren’t willing to relocate beyond 200m were however allowed to repair authorized
structures developed prior to 1991 in the CRZ without any government assistance. Three cents of (1acre = 100 cents) land in rural and
1.5 cents in municipal areas were provided, free of cost. Wherever agencies did not come forward, house owners were permitted to
construct with the assistance of District Collectors. Similarly, where NGOs were not available or in non-NGO operational areas, the
State Government decided to build the houses for the deserving families through SHG’s of beneficiaries.
For availing the new houses, old houses need to be relinquished to the Government through legally acceptable documents. Vacated
land would be entered in the Prohibitory Order Book at village and taluk revenue accounts and maintained for public purposes. The
fishing community is being allowed to keep their boats, nets, etc in this area with a view not to disturb their livelihood patterns. New
houses are built as per technical specifications of government for safety and durability. Insurance coverage would be given to the
families for new houses for a period of 10 years. The Government of Tamil Nadu provided the guidelines for ensuring the quality of
construction paving the way of durable and disaster proof habitat development. The layout was planned with adequate infrastructure
like water supply, streetlights, road, rainwater harvesting structures, drainage, community center, noon meal center, etc. Legal
ownership of the house to made in the Joint name of husband and wife, or the survivor, or the eldest surviving child.
Overall 89,206 permanent houses have been planned for reconstruction across the State. 7670 houses will be repaired in first phase.
NGOs have repaired 3953 houses and about 32,552 houses are being built by NGOs/TNSCB.
PRESENT STAGE OF HOUSING
The first phase of construction of 45,892 dwellings will be completed by March 2006. As on 22.12.2005, 5135 houses have been
completed – 1053 in Nagapattinam, 415 in Cuddalore, 981 in Kanniyakumari, 468 in Tiruvallur, 2200 in Chennai and 18 in
Villupuram. The second batch of 43,314 houses, which are not damaged, but fall within 200 m of the high tide line will be taken up
LAND ACQUISITION BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT FOR HOUSING
All the housing colonies / habitations are complete only with access roads, assured water supply, sanitation facilities, street lights
including solar street lights, community centers and anganvadis where necessary.
Cuddalore has been the first district to hand over completed houses to the tsunami affected built by Mata Amritanandamayi Math.
17461 new houses covering 80 habitations were taken up by 43 NGOs in Nagapattinam. The communities were also encouraged to go
in for in-situ construction beyond 200 m from the sea so as to retain the layout of the earlier habitation. In some habitations such as
keechankuppam, the suggestion was to go for G + 1(Ground + 1 floor) so as to save space. The designs of these houses differ from
place to lace, according to soil condition and the desire of the people of that area. In Chennai and Tiruvallur districts, multi-storied
houses of Rs.1,50,000 each with 235-250 sq.feet are planned.
CHECKLIST ON QUALITY MAINTENANCE FOR SHELTERS
Site selection; Foundation depth should be based on bore log testes and not based on the guideline, which is minimum required in good soil.
Foundation: The anchor reinforcement should emanate from the bottom of the foundation.
Cover to steel : Cover blocks of proper size and quality should be used.
Quality of water : The quality of water used for construction should be tested and the test report or record available at site.
Testing : Periodical cube testes should be made and the results available at site.
Compaction of concrete: Concrete should be well compacted especially around the bars.
Bar bending : The hooks for stirrups should be bent through 135 degrees. The vertical bar
Should be at the center of the wall and should not be kinked from the corner. The kink at laps should not be more than 1 in 6 slope.
Septic tank size and location: The capacity of the septic tank should be properly designed for the number of persons using the house. The actual
type of sanitation will depend upon the open space availability, nature of soil, ground water level and the number of families.
Test on Steel reinforcement: The steel reinforcement used should be tested for quality.
Quantity of water : A record should be kept for the quantity of water used for construction and the correction applied for moisture present in the sand.
RESTORATION OF LIVELIHOOD
Relocation in the new houses have given the fisher families a new sense of safety, access to privileges that they never had and freedom
from fear of being close to the sea. However, without getting back to the occupation where they belong, their resettlement would be
Apart from the subsidy amount that was given to the fishermen by the Government of Tamil Nadu, as a long-term measure, linkage
was given by the government between the fishermen and the banks for loans to the tune of Rs.47 crore to about 2000 fishermen for
repairing / replacing their fishing craft. The State Government has exempted fishing gear from Sales Tax. The restoration of 8 ports,
15 fishing harbors and innumerable fish landing centers are being restored. Besides supporting the fisher communities with the
fishing implements, they also had to be given psychological strength to dare the sea again. Some of them are exploring alternative
livelihood options. The district administrations are helping the fishermen, agriculturists and horticulturists who have lost their
traditional livelihoods due to tsunami with innovative livelihood alternatives on the lines of SHGs, Groups of fisherwomen were also
trained and seed funding given to start businesses using those skills.
An extent of 8460.34 hectares of agricultural land was saline affected. Farmers have been trained through Krishi Vikas Kendras, Soil
samples were taken periodically to monitor the progress of reclamation. The main features of the implementation strategy was to form
Tsunami Farmer’s Self Help Groups (TFSHG’s) in each area consisting of up to 30 members who shall undertake all the activities
relating to the reclamation of the soil affected by tsunami during the project period. AT the moment the entire affected land has been
reclaimed. So far, 5880.96 hectares are sown with salt tolerant paddy crops and the balance land will be sown with oil seeds soon.
Among, others the main features of the relief programme for the agriculturists are; The development and application of site-specific
soil management technologies to restore the soil productivity and protect the environment, restoration of livelihood opportunity to the
farmers whose lands have been degraded by tsunami, restoration and creation of irrigation infrastructure to sustain agricultural
activities and capacity building among the farmers in different aspects of tsunami affected soil reclamation technologies.
The technology assistance package for reclamation of land includes; Scraping and removal of silt, leveling of the land surface, salinity
being the main problem, wherever possible, leaching with good quality water three or four times at short intervals to restore soil
health, application of gypsum where necessary, arrange sufficient water in one irrigation to leach salts to depths beyond the root zone,
treating the surface with liberal addition of organic manures or insitu ploughing of green manures like Daincha or Sunhemp to
improve the soil physical condition and help to maintain the soil buffering capacity and twenty per cent extra seed supply to ensure
An extent of 669.82 hectares of horticultural land was affected and it has been recovered. Soil sampling, soil removal and green
manure application has been completed. Fruit saplings will be plated soon. So far, 138 SHGs have been formed with 20 members
each. The individual and family centric rehabilitation programmes are being complimented by rebuilding the public facilities and
restoration of common resources.
Public Works Department – Out of 414 totally damaged Public Buildings, 91 were School Buildings, 71 relate to Health services, 7
public office buildings, 114 cyclone shelters and 131 relate to the Animal Husbandry Department. Repair and reconstruction works of
these building is underway.
Some of the NGOs constructing permanent houses for the tsunami-affected families agreed to provide the basic infrastructure facilities
like roads, drainage and electricity in the new habitations that were coming up in many locations along the coastal line. Bulk of the
infrastructure facilities are being provided by the Government. Directorate of Special Village Panchayats, Commissionerate of
Municipal Administration, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board and Tamil Nadu Maritime
Board have undertaken infrastructure development works all over the affected areas.
RESTORATION OF SEAPORTS
Tsunami played havoc on the Cuddalore and Nagapattinam minor seaports under the control of the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board by
way of the silting up of the entire Uppanar River in Cuddalore District and Kaduvaiaru River in Nagapattinam District. This impeded
the navigation of boats and other vessels of the respective ports. Restoration works at Cuddalore and Nagapattinam Ports were
undertaken. In addition to the above, a huge dredging operation in fish launching areas in River Kaduvaiyar was done to resume the
fishing activities by mechanized boats.
WATER RESOURCES ORGANIZATION
Repair works will be carried out for 1 Regulator, 113.1 kms of river drains and 49.85 kms riverbanks. Out of 23 drains and river
confluences with Bay of Bengal in Nagapattinam District, 15 drains and rivers were identified as worst affected which require
immediate restoration. The worst affected drains and rivers are taken up for strengthening the banks to superior standards to avoid
further damages due to saline water intrusion. Some of the damaged regulators and canals will also be repaired.
RESTORATION OF SEA COAST AND PREVENTION OF SEA EROSION
The unexpected invasion of tsunami had eaten away large chunks of bewitchingly beautiful seashore along the Coromandal Coast. It
had caused substantial damage leaving in its trail the daunting task of restoring sea erosion. The Water Resources Organization of the
PWD implemented massive and immediate repair works and also carried out preventive measures to mitigate the damages from
similar dangers in the years to come.
RESTORATION OF ECOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT OF MANGROVE FORESTS ALONG THE COAST LINE
Natural mangrove forests and sand dunes have been acknowledged as the natural barriers to take the raging waves caused by sea-
borne disasters like tsunami to shield the land from the ravages of such disasters and to mitigate loss of human lives and damage to the
public and private properties to the barest minimum. This fact was proved by the minimum damages caused to Medavamedu Village,
which has plantations along the coastline. Moreover with the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, which were rich with mangroves, the
impact of tsunami was the minimum. Mangroves protect the shore from the sea and the sea from the shore besides enriching the
ecosystem. The State Government has made provisions for raising shelterbelt plantations in 13 coastal districts. An area of 2000
hectares had been identified in the tsunami affected coastal areas. The state government has also made provision for mangrove
plantation in Muthupet area. Nursery work has been completed, area finalized and plantation is in progress.
TRAINING AND ORIENTATION FOR CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS
Workshops and training was conducted for architects, masons and engineers to facilitate construction of disaster resistant buildings.
The state has also prepared a construction manual to be followed for the new constructions in the affected areas. Training covered
environment and social management, resistance features of buildings, quality control and quality assurance, water supply and
sanitation, rainwater harvesting and building material technology.
Disaster management is one of the most important global issues today. People need to be extensively taught on disaster prevention;
control and mitigation, Tsunamis and earthquakes of this measure cannot be predicted. But adequate short term and long-term disaster
mitigation measures can be put in place to minimize the loss of precious human life and thus reduce their impact. In order to create an
environment of disaster preparedness, the following activities have been undertaken.
Mock drills related to tsunami, with the participation of District level line Departments were conducted. In some places, Emergency
Operation Centres are planned to cater to the needs of emergency operations in the near future. In all the Blocks, an emergency/
disaster preparedness plan has been prepared and sensitization in this regard is being carried out. Village level plans for disaster
management have been encouraged. Village level sensitization meetings have been completed for all the blocks in the district of
Kanyakumari where participants from various sectors of life took part.
RESTORATION OF HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
A major tourist attraction, the 133 feet tall, Tiruvalluvar statue at Kanyakumari maintained by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development
Corporation and protected monuments located in the coastal belt of Kancheepuram, Nagapattinam and Thanjavur Districts and also
some structures of archaeological importance suffered damages due to tsunami. Repair and Restoration works of these protected
monuments and structures is one of the tasks facing the State Government. While the Tourism Development Corporation and
Poompuhar Shipping Corporation have restored their facilities, the other sites are to be improved with expert guidance.
The rehabilitation and restoration initiatives so far accomplished and those slated for another two years have been supported by
financial assistance from international and national agencies and other state governments besides the funds of the state government.
The Government has drawn up a comprehensive plan for development of the coastal areas ravaged by Tsunami. It consists of several
noteworthy initiatives, which cover not only physical components but also addresses gaps in the human resource domain: Strengthen
the connectivity in coastal areas, construction of link roads, bridges, to catalyze the economy and increase disaster preparedness,
disaster preparedness programmes at community level by training programmes – not confined to fisheries.
It also aims to stabilize the current and broaden livelihood option and strengthen the coastal ecology by measures such as shelterbelt
plantations, mangroves, etc.
1. Uniform Building standards – Disaster resistant features covering earthquake,
Floods, etc. with close monitoring of quality control.
2. Steel Boats being made instead of mechanized wooden boats.
3. Extensive use of Internet for information dissemination and reporting.
4. Desalination and other drinking water solutions.
5. Solar lights – 4000 lanterns by solar energy.
6. Use of building materials like micro-concrete tiles, compressed stabilized Earthen
Blocks, fly-ash cement blocks / bricks.
7. Use of excavators / JCBs, earthmovers, etc. in the relief and rescue operations.
8. Use of Gabions in all coastal protection measures like sea walls, groynes, etc.
9. Use of wireless sets in all the coastal panchayats, vehicles and offices.
TURNING THREAT INTO OPPORTUNITIES
Women Empowerment: Fishing hands handle Fibreglass and building blocks
This is the story of how the tsunami-affected fisherwomen were bought together and trained in various innovative enterprises in
Nagapattinam to help them in their livelihood. The women aren’t just empowered in their own hamlets; they also pave the way for the
economic development of their community. Training to several Self Help Groups (SHG’s) on making unique, cost-efficient products
was imparted. Fisherwomen actively participated and learnt the micro finance techniques. Economic assistance in the form of
revolving credit was obtained from the banks. The groups have started their production and are running successfully now. The
products for which training and assistance were given to the women were Micro Concrete Roofing (MCR), Cemen Concrete Hollow
Block Production, Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (SCEBs), Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic Sanitary Pan and Door Products
(FRP), training in footwear and other fancy leather products and eco friendly paper products by changing wastes to useful things.
Similar other ventures are perfume candle making, vermi composting, coir making, computer sambirani and agarbathi making,
terracotta and palm leaf products. Training in other skills like fish trading, grocery shops, vegetable cultivation, sanitary napkin
preparation, bakery, tailoring, masonry work, auto rickshaw operation, tailoring, catering technology,solar fish drying technology,
manson training, bakery production, fish pickle production, fattening of crabs/lobsters, computer training, paper cup manufacturing,
candle making and toy making have been impaired.
Tsunami orphaned not only children, but also many parents who had lost one or al their children suffered untold trauma. In many
cases the victims had already been sterilized and could not hope for any more children. It is at this point that the government stepped
in and arranged for Recanalization operations that surgically revives their ability to bear children. The government agreed to bear the
cost for the victims who could undergo this surgery at public or private hospitals. This gave them a psychological reassurance that the
children whom they had lost to the merciless waves would be reborn to them. Two women from Nagapattinam and one from
Kanniyakumari recently conceived after the Recanalization operation. One of them, Geetha had lest both her children to the tsunami.
The other, Kumari Sivakumar, had lost two of her three children. Both of them conceived successfully after recanalisation. After all,
they could see some light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Ashwini belongs to Pudupettai fishing hamlet, Cuddalore District. Her father is involved in fishing profession. Her mother
Bhanumathy, died in tsunami. Ashwini was studying 12th standard in Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Parangipettai at
that time. The Government supported hr family with relief packages and the girl with textbooks. In the 12 th standard board exams,
she has secured 817 marks out of 1200 marks. With support from the District Administration, the girl was allotted MBBS medical
seat in Medical College, Kozhikode. She is now doing her first year MBBS in Kozhikode Medical College.
Arun Nehru is from Thazhanguda fishing hamlet, Cuddalore District. He was studying 12th standard in Government Higher
Secondary School at Manjakuppam, Cuddalore District. All the household articles, including his textbooks, were washed away by the
tidal waves. Arun got the relief meant for school going tsunami affected children from the state government. In the 12 th standard
public exams, he secured 1142 out of 1200 and secured first rank in this school and second rank in the district among state board
competitors. He secured 198 out of 200 in Chemistry and Biology, 195 out of 200 in Physics and Mathematics, 190 in Tamil and 166
in English. Currently, he is studying BE in Agriculture at the Agriculture University of Coimbatore.
LIVELIHOOD ASSISTANCE TO TSUNAMI AFFECTED SHGS IN KANYAKUMARI DISTRICT:
A total of 1478 SHGs were given revolving fund to the tune of Rs.1814.60 Lakh which will enable the tsunami affected SHGs to get
further economic assistance for the future. More over, 64 SHGs in the rural areas have been provided with economic assistance of
Rs.225.10 lakh (Subsidy component Rs.72.5 lakh, Loan component Rs.152.60 lakh). Apart from the fund oriented assistance, 835
SHGs in the coastal areas have been given training in trades like Se Weed farming, Bakery, Chappal making, tailoring, Coir products,
banana fibre products etc.
The tsunami exacted a heavy emotional toll on thousands of children who were traumatized by the disaster. District Administrations
took various steps like organizing recreation trips. Sports meets, puppet shows and street plays in which the affected children took part
in order to help the children to cope up with the shock and trauma.
The District Administration of Cuddalore came up with an innovative idea and succeeded in getting sponsors for 71 play parks in the
coastal villages and in the orphanage at Pudhupalayam. These play parks, which are unique to Cuddalor district, served as one of the
major tools in bringing the children back to normal life by keeping them engaged in playing during the initial stages of tsunami. The
Department of Social Welfare took extensive steps for the purpose of bringing the affected villagers out of distress and depression.
Counselling camps were organizd for this purpose in all the villages covering 46000 individuals in 14000 families. The department
had imparted counseling training to Trainers and Community Level Workers totaling 3000 persons who will be permanent counselors
in their respective areas.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: PROACTIVE COMMUNITIES
Here is a village that escaped from the tsunami because of its proactive Disaster Preparedness Training Programme-Samiyarpettai
fishing hamlet, Silambimangalam village, Cuddalore District. The programme was organized in this village on 14 th September 2004,
much before the tsunami. So when the tsunami stuck, the villagers knew how to respond. “Many more of us would have been killed
had we not done what we were trained for, “ says Chandran, one of the survivors. Meera belongs to Samiyarpettai Village in
Chidambaram Taluk. She is a member of the Forewarning Committee under Village Disaster Management Plan and had also obtained
training in the month of October 2004. On 26th December 2004, at the time of Tsunami, Meera realized that water was entering the
village. She boldly rushed to the seashore to do her duty of warning the people who were there without caring for her own life. There
were about 500 people along the seashore. Due to her efforts, many lives were saved in the seashore. When the second set of waves
came, she too ran away but the waves reached and she managed to save herself by clinging to the gate of a house on the beach road
near the seashore area. Even after having saved herself from the jaws of death, she continued her service with exemplary courage and
bravery and saved more lives. She held the hands of four persons and brought them to safety. She was awarded the Kalpana Chawla
Award for Courage and Darling Enterprise for the year 2005-2006 with a cash prize of Rs.500000 by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of
MEASURES TAKEN TO SAFEGUARD THE FISHING HAMLETS FROM SEA EROSION
Thazhanguda, one of the Tsunami affected fishing hamlets is situated near the confluence point of Pennaiyar River with the sea. A
portion of the village, flushed with coconut plantation, was heavily affected with sea erosion during the tsunami. To avoid further
erosion and to protect the coconut plantation, a sea wall of palmyrah piles was driven for a length of 150 meters at a total cost of
Rs.10.00 lakh, which is only about 20% of the cost of the usual rubble masonry wall. Such measures are not only cost effective but
FISH MARKETING CENTRES:
The Gremaltes Hospital, German Leprosy and TB Relief Association- India, an NGO came forward to construct a fish market at an
estimated cost of Rs.15 lakhs which replaced the dilapidated building, used by the women to sell fish. The Fish market can
accommodate about 50 women who want to sell fish. All the women are given the equipment like boxes to store fish and weighing
scale that are needed to sell fish. It is the first permanent community asset, which has the perfect partnership of the Government,
NGOs and the community. The participation of the beneficiaries was ensured right from the beginning of the expression of the need
for the fish market up to the inauguration. It will go a long way in helping the fishermen and women to build their lives financially
secure. In Chennai, totally 10 such fish markets along the coastline are being sponsored.
STEEL STEALING THE CHARM
35 year old Paul Raj is a boat yard owner. He says that 22 steel boats are being manufactured, of which 7 of them are in the finishing
stage. This is the first time that steel boats are being introduced in Nagapattinam. Nearly 13-14 tonnes of steel are required for a
single steel boat along with 5 tonnes of wood. The modeling of the boat is inspired by Kerala boats. The main advantage of having
such a boat is – it makes long sailing easier with a big and an efficient engine. The fuel consumption is also very less as compared to
the wooden boat which has a smaller engine. In a steel boatm a 1000 meter rope can be used to catch larger fish on the sea surface.
But in a wooden boat, overloading is not possible and hence the length of the rope used is shorter. Ice storage boxes are inbuilt in
these boats, which increases the life of catch. Since these boats cost nearly Rs.20 lakh each the Government facilitated by providing
subsidy with loans to the fishermen under the Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation Package for tsunami affected areas for manufacturing
through the banks. Skilled labourers to do the construction work were brought in from Kochi and Koolam. “The introduction of these
boats has boosted our morale. It will surely bring prosperity our business. We just wish that the monthly burden of repaying the loan
amount was further reduced. Also, if 8-10 people are permitted on each boat compared to the present six, we can improve our day’s
catch and earn more profits,”says Paul Raj.
BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN MELAMANAKUDI-KEEZHAMANAKUDI
The bridge which connected the two villages of Melamanakudi and Keezhamanakudi, was constructed in 2004 was completely
washed away by the tidal waves. The construction of a temporary bridge was started in the month of July 2005 at a cost of Rs.1.43
crores and this has been completed successfully. Normally for the width of the crossing (140 meters) here, administrations will wait
for a permanent bridge to be built. In this case, even though a permanent bridge was coming up nearby, the administration thought it
fit to put up a temporary bridge to resume immediate connectivity.
EXPEDITIOUS REPAIR OF HOUSES:
The tsunami left thousands of houses fully damaged and thousands in a partly damaged conditions. With the help of the NGOs and
within a span of three months, a total of 3573 houses at a cost of Rs.4 crore approximately were fully repaired in all the 33 affected
hamlets of Kanyakumari district. This helped thousands of people to get back to their normal lives.
PHILANTHROPISTS COME TO THE AID OF INJURED:
Immediately after tsunami, many people who were injured got admitted in various private hospitals within Kanyakumari District and
also in Trivandrum District of Kerala State. For many of these affected persons, the medical bills were huge. In this situation the
District Administration put forward the request of settling medical bills of these private hospitals to the NGO’s, voluntary
Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Philanthropists etc. who wholeheartedly donated cash to the tune of Rs.30 lakhs. This
helped the victims of tsunami to obtain immediate relief and get back to their normal lives.
POTABLE WATER-A DREAM COME TRUE
Akkaraipettai is a predominantly fishermen area situated very close to the sea. This densely populated village always faced the
scarcity of safe drinking water. The underground water is too salty to drink and the only other source of drinking water was about
3kms from the village. In response to this problem, Thirumalai Charity Trust set up 4 desalination plants to provide safe drinking
water. These plants turned out to be of great value for the villagers of Akkaraipettai, Kuttiandiyur, Nambiar Nagar, Seruthur and
Chandrapadi. Each tank has a capacity of purifying nearly twenty thousand litres and the administration is sharing the O and M costs.
Further, in order to sustain the cleaning and maintenance of the plant, Re 1 per pot is being collected. It was a decision taken by the
Village Panchayat as they did not want to do away with such a wonderful facility even if the TCT leaves the place. A seven member
team has been formed for this purpose. A joint account has been opened and all the members have been given orientation on the
functioning and maintenance of the plant.
AN INSPIRATION AND A ROLE MODEL FOR WOMEN
Thoduvai, a non descript village in the northern corner of Nagapattinam district is witness to what a highly motivated woman can
achieve. The 28 year old M.Shantha Kumari hailing from a fishing community is the first woman to pursue Doctoral studies (PhD) in
Nagapattinam district in the field of Fisheries. Her research attempts an indepth study of the life of fishing communities in
Nagapttinam district and their culture.
When asked why she chose this topic she said, “No one has ever attempted to study the life of fishing communities in Nagapattinam
district although similar work has been done in other parts of the state. I want to be a link between the developed communities and the
fishing community so that they’ll know the issues that we face”.
But it has not been that easy for Shantha Kumari. The tsunami almost brought her research work to a halt. With a three month old
child, the displacement to a temporary tsunami shelter was not pleasant or convenient.
Recollecting the reaction of her community at Chinnamedu, her native village south of Thoduvai she says, “My community was very
skeptical in the beginning but now I’m looked upon by them as a role model for other girls of the village. Around 18-20 girls in my
village are now continuing their higher studies. My philosophy is to demonstrate something rather than keep talking about it”. Her
mother, uncle, husband and her in laws have been extremely cooperative and supportive.
When asked what her future dream is she says, “My priority is to become a lecturer so that I can motivate more students to get
educated. Even if I become a lecturer I want to be involved in the development of my community and more importantly the women”.
She hopes to complete her doctoral studies by next year and Thoduvai will add another chapter to its remarkable recovery from the
PROFESSIONALS FROM POOMPUHAR THE ILLITERATE SCHOOL:
The Panchayat Union Middle School at Kaveripoompattinam may seem like any other ordinary school until one enters it and visits the
computer centre inside. Post-tsunami, the school has seen an investment of more than Rs.4.5 lakhs by various external development
agencies and individual philanthropists of the village. This include educational aids such as text books. Bags, play materials, desks,
benches, uniforms, bicycles, ceiling fans, computers etc.
The computer centre is a part of the public private partnership at the school. It seeks to impart technical skills to school children who
may not have an opportunity to acquire such skills. Mr. Anbalagan, the school head master says, “Even the students who are weak in
studies excel in computers. Moreover, they teach us about operating computers and are quite excited about the whole concept”.
The students spend about two hours every week learning new concepts. The school has provided a large hall for the purpose and has
earmarked two periods per week for the students to learn various applications on the computers. Most of the students have never had
any prior experience in operating a computer which most of us take for granted. Although they longed to work on one, they never had
the opportunity to access one or could never afford it. Krithika, an eighth standard student says, “This is the first time I’ve been able
to touch a computer and play games on it”. When 14 year old Subhash was asked what ‘MS’ in MS Word meant, he promptly replied
that it stood for Microsoft. The school is likely to get six more computers shortly taking the total to twenty.
As a teacher rightly put it, “The computer training will help students to compete with other students by providing them with wider
employment opportunities and an opportunity to pursue higher education”. One of the future plans is to provide internet connectivity
thus opening a new world to them. The day is not far when these kids will be able to reach greater heights just because they acquired
a new skill during their school days.
TWINS SPRING BACK TO LIFE:
For the villages that were almost wiped off the map by the tsunami, the comeback has been simply amazing. Akkaraipettai and
Keechankuppam, known the world over as the worst affected habitations in India, lost more than 1600 of their houses, fishing boats,
mechanized trawlers, community infrastructure such as schools, fish auction halls, drying centers etc. But equally dramatic has been
their path to restoration and recovery. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department is raising a Cyclone Bio-Shield consisting of coconut
saplings next to the seashore aptly dedicating the individual saplings to those who lost their lives in the tsunami.
A new and majestic bridge is being built across the Kaduvaiyaru River connecting the two villages to the nearby Nagapattinam town.
Some say it could be as tall as the lighthouse located a few hundred meters away in the Nagapattinam port.
While the fish drying yard is complete and ready for use, the auction hall will be completed shortly. The Higher Secondary School at
Akkaraipettai, which lost close to 500 of its students, now sports new classroom blocks and a new laboratory that will be completed by
early next year.
Indian Potash Limited, Suyam Charitable Trust, World vision India, and Manu Needhi Oasarai, all NGO’s
Corporates are helping in the construction of additional classrooms,laboratories, buildings, etc., changing the face of education in
Akkaraipettai. An LCD Projector and a number of teaching software have been installed. TIFAC which is a central government
agency, had constructed five community sheds which are currently put to use as village knowledge centre, centre to impart livelihood
The community rain shelter built by the tata relef committee at Akkaraipettai on land donated by the Government
will enable the communities to protect themselves against future disaster. Last December these twin villages symbolized the
devastation and destruction caused by the tsunami and the agony that it bought. But twelve months on, they symbolize hope and
renewed strength in the face of extreme adversities. The world will remember these two villages not for what happened on 26 th
December,2004 but fot what they are now and all that they stand for.
TINY TOTS BRAVE THE KILLER WAVES
As part of the efforts to psychologically rehabilitate the children affected by tsunami, the district administration of
Nagapattinam had conducted a drawing competition for tsunami affected children. The painting reflected deep wounds inflicted by
tsunami on these children. The sensitive drawings painted by Tsunami affected children were converted into greeting cards by the
district administration and the sale proceeds go to the benefit of the children. A similar initiative has been taken by Collector,
THE TEN STRATEGIES THAT PROVED SUCCESSFUL
1. Focused leadership at political and administrative levels resulting in speedy decisions and implementation-constant monitoring
by Hon’ble CM, Cabinet Ministers and the state level Committee headed by chief Secretary and state Relief Commissioner.
2. Complete decentralization of powers through the empowerment of local district officials who were the focal point for all
3. Need based relief activities taken up in advance, examples being the sustenance packages announced for four months in
advance when the livelihoods were not returning to normalcy, packages for fishermen and for orphaned children/adolescent
4. Streaming the flow of resources- advance release of contingency amounts to collectors, co-ordinating the movement of relief
materials at the state and district levels through participation with NGOs and use of government organization like Tamil Nadu
Medical Services Corporation, Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd.,etc.
5. Providing a platform for the active participation and co-ordination with NGOs/Corporates and Civil Society Organizations
from the first week of the disaster. Issue of orders for a Comprehensive village Development Model that paved the way for
uniform reconstruction activities.
6. No Compromise on standards relating to the quality of materials, specifications for the building and the provision of water
supply,electricity and other services.
7. Participation of the community at every level of decision making including the formation of local level committees to oversee
relief, decide on housing locations/building plans and purchase of fishing gear.
8. Coverage of all sectors, however small they were- the relief and rehabilitation activities touched every affected family whether
they were fishers, famers, farm laborers, SC/ST’s, students, widows,orphans, women who have undergone sterilization
operations and so on.
9. Comprehensive use of technology-wireless sets covering the costal Panchayats, Collectors other officers and their Vehicles-
Web based reporting as well as extensive usage of internet by hosting all the government orders, guidelines for housing, photos
for missing persons, list of individual beneficiaries and activities of the collectors.
10. Focus on the conservation of costal ecology by giving extensive support for the plantation of mangroves, shelterbelt
plantations and sand dunes – the housing reconstruction policy being fully in tune with the costal Regulatory Zone
The Government has drawn up a comprwhensive plan for the restoration and development of the costal areas
ravaged by tsunami. It consists of several noteworthy initiatives, which cover not only physical components but also addresses gaps in
intangibles such as disaster preparedness. The resolve of the Government is to preserve and strengthen the costal habitat while
ensuring thet the traditional rights of the costal population are not trampled upon in any way. This reflected in the housing policy of
the government and the plans to rebuild and enchanse the infrastructure of the costal areas in a holistic and eco-friendly manner.
The obvious corollary to catalyse the economy and increase disaster preparedness in the costal areas would be to
restore the physical connectivity and upgrade the fisheries infrastructure. Lack of poor road networks act as a drag on the economy
and prevent effective disaster response during evacuation and rescue. Therefore, the roads and bridges are being completely restored.
The coastal economy is heavily dependent on fishing and therefore the plan provides for restoration of the fisheries infrastructure
including ports and harbours which were decimated by the tsunami. These initiatives will also provide the much needed impetus to
the local economy resulting from employment generation.
The Government of India has announced plan for the setting up of a Tsunami Warning Centre for India with the
latest technology. This centre is expected to trigger the response mechanism at the State, district and village levels. The State
Government is planning to extend the UNDP funded Disaster Risk Management programme which saved many lives in Samiyarpettai
to all the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. Exposure to such training not only addresses the gaps in capacity of the community to face
future disasters but also give them the confidence to face mundane challenges in their day to day lives while improving the
cohesiveness of the local communities cutting across caste and class lines. Emergency Operation Centres and Standard Operating
Procedures for districts will be part of the requirement.
The search for alternative livelihoods has reached a crescendo especially after the tsunami has brought the risks involved in the coastal
life to the fore. This felt need has become accentuated due to the limited nature of the aquatic resources. This has led younger
generations to aspire for vocations that are not only different but also provide for sustainable income streams. The Government has
addressed this need in right earnest and a dedicated programme of alternative livelihoods is being rolled out in consultation with the
communities. Recognizing the advantages of group based activities, special attention is being paid to ensure that these opportunities
are also dielivered through Self Help Groups. It is expected that the coastal economy supply chain will be substantially altered after
the implementation of these schemes.
This will not only supplement the income base but also provide for substantive risk diversification resulting freeing them from
excessive dependence on a single vocation.
Tsunami demonstrated the effectiveness of natural protection measures such as plantations, mangroves and sand dunes in protecting
the coastal eco-system from natural attacks. This has prompted the Government to provide for the only defence from natural
calamities in its programme- a comprehensive shelterbelt programme in the coastal areas. Part of our inability to protect ourselves
from such shocks of nature is our very little understanding of the coastal habitat. Therefore several studies of the various aspects of
the coastal eco-system are being undertaken to further our understanding of the complexities of nature and to undertake measures,
which will provide the requisite protection and a sustainable habitat. A comprehensive Coastal Zone Management Plan is being
prepared hopefully forming the basis for a resurgent and safe coastal economy.