Chennai: The harvest festival will become sweeter with the state government announcing to provide “cash support” of Rs 1,000 per family for celebrating the Pongal festival.
This is in addition to the Pongal gift hamper containing raw rice, sugar, raisins, cashew nut, cardamom and sugarcane to all ration cardholders. The cash ‘gift’ will be applicable for the entire state except Tiruvarur district where the model code of conduct is in force, in view of the by-election to Tiruvarur Assembly constituency (on Jan.28), Governor Banwarilal Purohit informed.
Inaugurating the sixth session of the fifteenth Legislative Assembly and the first for this year here on Wednesday, amidst boycott by the DMK and allies, the Governor said, “following in the footsteps of late Chief Ministers M. G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa, who have always helped the poor and downtrodden during calamities, this government will distribute Pongal gift hampers containing raw rice, sugar, raisins, cashew nut, cardamom and sugarcane to all card holders to celebrate the Pongal festival, to mitigate the impact of Gaja cyclone in Cauvery delta and the widespread drought in northern districts.”
“In addition, I am happy to announce that this government will give a cash support of Rs 1,000 per family for the celebration of Pongal festival which will be applicable for the entire state except Thiruvarur district where the model code of conduct is in force, in view of the by-election to Thiruvarur Assembly constituency,” he added.
The opposition parties’ boycotted in spite of the Governor, breaking the convention, appealed to the leader of the Opposition and DMK president M.K. Stalin “with folded hands” to resume his seat. “Please we will discuss (the issues raised by Stalin),” the Governor insisted when his customary address to the Assembly on the opening day of the session was disrupted by Stalin who wanted to discuss the steps taken to mitigate the impact of cyclone Gaja in the Cauvery delta and drought in the northern districts.
Referring to the destruction caused by Gaja, Purohit recalled that the state had sought Rs 2,709 crore as immediate relief and Rs 15,190 crore for permanent restoration works, from the Centre. He thanked the Centre for sanctioning Rs 900.31 crore additionally under National Disaster Relief Fund for immediate relief, and requested the Union government to extend adequate additional financial help to rebuild the affected houses and restore the livelihood of the people.
Turning to water sharing disputes with Karnataka and Kerala, Banwarilal asserted that Tamil Nadu will continue to pursue legal options to protect its interests.
Though such river water issues could be “better resolved through mutual trust and understanding, Tamil Nadu has been repeatedly forced to seek legal remedy to protect its legitimate riparian rights,” he said. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami is committed to protecting the state’s interests by all legal means.
The nod for DPR for Mekedatu is a “blatant violation” of the Supreme Court judgment on Cauvery River. On the Mullaiperiyar dam issue, he said the state government would continue its pursuit of raising the water level in the dam to 152 feet.
On the Sterlite issue, he reiterated that the copper smelter plant failed to comply with environmental norms and added that the government would challenge the order of the National Green Tribunal allowing the plant’s reopening.
On the fiscal front, he said while the revenue deficit has been on the rise mainly due to the devolution formula evolved by the 14th Finance Commission, the implementation of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana and the 7th pay panel recommendations have also widened the revenue deficit....