The Centre on Sunday said Cyclone Ockhi, which wrecked havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, cannot be declared a national calamity as there is no such scheme, but assured all necessary assistance to tackle the situation.


Speaking to reporters after attending a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Secretariat here, Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam said the Centre has already given necessary relief funds to the state government.


“We have received a memorandum from the state government requesting to declare Cyclone Ockhi as a national calamity. But, there is no such scheme for the Centre to do the same,” he said.


Though the Union Tourism Minister earlier backed the Kerala government’s contention that they had not received any prior warning about the cyclone, he later clarified that the central agencies had given necessary alerts on 28 and 29 November itself.


Kannanthanam, in the presence of Vijayan, earlier had stated that the state had received the cyclone alert only on 30 November and a clear prior warning had not been issued before that.


The Union Minister later visited nearby Punthura, a coastal hamlet where fishermen are protesting alleging delay in rescue of their kin, who had ventured into sea days ago. He also said that 90 fishermen from the state were yet to be brought back to the shores.