Chennai: Describing the recent rains that lashed Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu as "unprecedented", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the immediate challenge is to provide assistance to the affected and asked banks to ensure that tear is wiped off from every eye.
Distributing loans and financial assistance to the affected in Chennai, Jaitley said his visit has come to the city when it was facing "challenging times".
"The city and districts have faced greatest challenges of nature. The fury of nature we have seen in the last few weeks is almost unprecedented.
"The immense amount of damage done by this fury also is beyond human capacity to defy them (challenges)," he said, adding, "The immediate challenge is to provide relief, saving human lives and to provide basics for livelihood."
Pointing out that it was a "fundamental principle" to provide relief and rehabilitation measures in dealing with natural disaster, he said, "You cannot prevent the disaster, but subsequently you plan that there is a much better quality of life.
"In terms of infrastructure and what has caused havoc (in the recent floods), governments will have to take steps in such a way that systems are strengthened in order to put back the society (and help it) stand on its own feet," he said.
"In the long term, people have to be able to stand on their own. It is here where the Financial Institutions play a role that India must become a insured society," he said.
"We are today one of lesser insured society. The (recent) tragedy is a lesson for future that India has to be an insured society," he said.
With regard to those insured people and affected by the floods, he asked the banks and insurance companies that all claims must be expeditiously "disposed off".
"Banks will make sure that assistance is provided, that tear is wiped off from every eye and society starts running back to normalcy than limping back," he said.
Insurance companies have set up 176 centres in four flood affected districts and all claims have to be settled "expeditiously", he said.
Noting that banks have large network in these districts, he said, "Banks will also be making available soft loans so that people return to normal life in this hour of crisis."
State Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, Finance Secretary K Gnanadesikan along with top officials from public sector Indian Bank Managing Director and CEO, Mahesh Kumar Jain and Indian Overseas Bank, MD and CEO, R Kotteeswaran were present.