Jayalalitha govt scraps free TV scheme
Chennai: The Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu on Friday scrapped another pet scheme of the Karunanidhi regime by ending free colour TV distribution on which over Rs 3,600 crore was spent in the past five years.
According to Jayalalithaa, for the nearly 1.60 crore TV sets, people paid Rs 4,000 crore annually for cable connection, which business is controlled by (Karunanidhi's grandnephews) Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran (who own Sumangali Cable Vision) and (Karunanidhi's grandson) Durai Dayanithi.
Thus people paid more for the cable connection, Jayalalithaa, who has already announced that cable services in the state will be nationalised, told the Assembly.
Replying to the debate on the motion to thank Governor Surjit Singh Barnala for his address, she said the orders for around 7 lakh colour TV sets to be procured under the sixth phase of the scheme have been cancelled.
Over one lakh colour TV sets already procured in the sixth phase would be distributed to orphanages and anganwadis among others, she said.
Maintaining that the distribution of free colour TVs to beneficiaries lacked proper planning, the AIADMK chief said the sets were distributed not on the basis of applications received.
Instead, a DMK government-appointed committee had overseen the process, "which resulted in people coming in cars" to get a TV set that cost a little over Rs 2,100 per unit, she said.
Asserting that her party was not against schemes aimed at social welfare, she said she was however clear where the line had to be drawn when it came to schemes and freebies meant to garner votes.
"The DMK demeaned welfare schemes (by calling them) as freebies. They only viewed them as tools to garner votes. It is not charity but schemes being implemented on taxpayers' money," she said.
After coming back to power with an overwhelming mandate in the April 13 assembly polls, Jayalalithaa has reversed several flagship programmes of the Karunanidhi government, including free housing and medical insurance, apart from announcing a judicial probe into alleged irregularities in the construction of the assembly-cum- secretariat complex.
Jayalalithaa, who had promised various freebies in her party's poll manifesto, said her government was committed to make the state No 1 in every sphere in the coming years.
On her party's freebies, such as providing 20 kg rice free of cost, she claimed it was a welfare scheme "as it assured food security."
Taking on the DMK on the law and order situation during its 2006-11 rule in the state, she said Karunanidhi's "biggest achievement is to have slipped the state into a chaotic situation."
"Policemen were assigned on unofficial appointment for the protection of 135 members of the DMK family. Then where will they have the time to maintain law and order or prevent or detect crime. In some cases, traffic cops who were on VIP duty for DMK leaders from 4 am to 11 pm have been posted back for public duty," Jayalalithaa said.
The state police looked "pathetic," at the end of the DMK regime as it was dogged by interference from DMK partymen, she said, but assured they can discharge their duties without any such interference in her regime.
Strict measures to maintain law and order are already in place and police have been asked to act tough against anti-socials, the chief minister said.
Jayalalithaa said that illegal sand mining will be dealt with strongly and since she came to power, over 890 persons have been booked for the said crime and 810 cases filed.
Taking a dig at DMK strongman and Union Minister M K Alagiri who had predicted that AIADMK would cease to exist after the Assembly elections, Jayalalithaa said, "his whereabouts were now unknown."
Without naming Alagiri, she said, "Someone who had predicted AIADMK will be destroyed at the end of the elections and one who is afraid of replying in Parliament, his whereabouts are unknown."
On the issue of the new Assembly-cum-secretariat complex, she said there was no political bias for not functioning from there.
"Less than 49 per cent of the total area in Block A has office space and the cost estimates have gone up against the Rs 200 crore first envisaged in 2007 by way of a Government Order," Jayalalithaa said.
The building was inaugurated in March 2010 (by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) even as it was incomplete, she added.
Further, while six departments including the CM's office had been shifted there during the DMK rule, the rest continued to function from Fort St George, Jayalalithaa said.
"There are so many administrative constrains with two buildings located about 2 km away from each other. So it is purely for administrative reasons that we have chosen to work from here," she said.
However, the new secretariat building will be put to appropriate use, she said.