Chennai: Chief Minister M K Stalin on Friday announced a welfare package of Rs 317 crore, which includes rebuilding houses, for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu.
A committee would be set up soon for their welfare, which shall among other things work towards long term solutions on matters like citizenship and making arrangements for those returning to Sri Lanka, Stalin said.
Making a statement in the Assembly, the Chief Minister said Rs 261.54 crore would be for improving infrastructure including reconstruction of houses for those living in camps, Rs 12.25 crore towards ensuring education and job opportunities and Rs 43.61 crore for raising their living standards.
Till date, 3,04,269 Lankan Tamils have arrived in Tamil Nadu since 1983 and of them 58,822 people belonging to 18,944 families are housed in 108 camps spread across 29 districts and 34,087 people are living elsewhere after due registration, he said.
Assuring a dignified living for Tamil refugees, Stalin said 7,469 dilapidated tenements in camps would be rebuilt at a cost of Rs 231.54 crore and Rs 108.81 crore would be earmarked in the current fiscal for construction of 3,510 new houses in the first phase.
For improving basic amenities like drinking water, Rs 30 crore shall be allotted and every year Rs 5 crore shall be set apart for developing such facilities.
On the education front, Stalin said government would bear the tuition and hostel fees of 55 students, who are children of refugees. Fifty students in engineering and five others in agriculture and agriculture-engineering streams would get the assistance based on marks secured.
Also, the government shall remit the tuition and hostel fee of all post graduate students living in camps and Rs 1 crore would be allotted for the purpose.
Announcing a hike in scholarship, he said the assistance for those studying polytechnic courses would now be Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,500. For graduate studies in arts and science streams, the scholarship shall be increased to Rs 12,000 from Rs 3,000. For graduate level vocational courses, the scholarship would be increased to Rs 20,000 from Rs 5,000 and Rs 1.25 crore shall be set apart for the initiative.
For the every 300 Self Help Groups in camps, Rs 1.25 lakh would be provided as revolving and community investment fund and Rs 75,000 shall be given to 321 groups selected last year over and above the Rs 50,000 provided earlier.
In total, Rs 6.16 crore would be allotted for the purpose in the current financial year.
Also, Rs 10 crore would be allotted to provide skill development training to 5,000 youngsters.
The cash assistance to family heads would be increased to Rs 1,500 per month from Rs 1,000. The cash support shall be increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 750 for adults and for children aged 12 and below, it would be Rs 500 from the present Rs 400. The increase would cost the exchequer an additional Rs 21.49 crore.
Free of cost cooking gas connection and stove would be provided to camp inmates at a one-time cost of Rs 7 crore and a subsidy of Rs 400 would be provided for five gas cylinders and Rs 3.80 crore shall be earmarked every year for this purpose.
The CM also announced that the rice provided to them over and above the 20 kilo entitlement shall also be provided free of cost. Presently, they get a subsidy of 57 paisa per kilo for rice above the 20-kg slab. "The government will bear the additional expenditure of Rs 19 lakh."
Stalin also announced enhanced support in other welfare schemes including those aimed at providing clothing and cooking utensils.
The Chief Minister said the proposed committee would be for providing appropriate support to refugees living in camps and outside. It would also look into enhancing basic amenities for them....