(EDS: Updates with team’s inspection) Chennai, Nov 24 (PTI) A central team deputed to assess the damage caused by cyclone Gaja in Tamil Nadu Saturday held discussions with Chief Minister K Palaniswami here and later began its inspection of the storm hit regions in Pudukottai district.

After the team members, led by Joint Secretary in the Union Home ministry Daniel E Richard, held talks with the chief minister at the Secretariat this morning, they visited Pudukottai later in the day.

The team, on its first day of inspection, assessed the extent of damage to standing crops, banana plantations, houses and electricity infrastructure and its restoration including putting up electricity poles, official sources told PTI.

Senior state officials briefed the team on the damage, they said.

Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai and Health Minister C Vijayabaskar were also present.

The team inspected several areas including Keeranur and Tirumalairayasamudram in Pudukottai district.

On Sunday, the team is tentatively scheduled to inspect Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts and it is expected to visit Nagapattinam on Monday.

Tamil Nadu Ministers D Jayakumar, C Ve Shanmugam and RB Udayakumar and senior officials including Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan were present when the team held discussions with the chief minister, an official release said.

While five members of the team had arrived from Delhi Friday, two others, who are based in Chennai, joined them.

Besides Daniel, the other four members belong to ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Rural Development and Power.

The two Chennai based members are from the ministries of Water Resources and Road Transport and Highways.

During his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Thursday, Palaniswami had sought about Rs 15,000 crore as central assistance towards relief and rehabilitation activities in the cyclone-hit districts.

He also asked Modi to depute a central team to assess the damage.

Cyclone ‘Gaja’ had crossed the Tamil Nadu coast early on November 16 between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam, about 300 km from Chennai, leaving a trail of destruction and claiming 63 lives.

Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Pudukottai were the worst affected districts.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.