Committee headed by Paneerselvam will identify areas to be declared drought-hit

Despite Tamil Nadu’s repeated pleas, the Central government has not yet notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. The rights of Tamil Nadu over Cauvery water should be ensured, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said at Kodanad near Kotagiri in the district on Wednesday, while launching the distribution of special Pongal pack. The failure of the monsoon had raised doubts over the survival of the crops in the delta region.

The government would fully compensate whatever loss was incurred by the farmers, she said, referring to the relief package announced.

Further, a committee headed by Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam had been formed to identify areas to be declared drought-hit.

The committee would also work out how much more compensation could be given to farmers, she added.

The Chief Minister said that as the government was keen that all sections of society should celebrate Pongal, it had been decided to give 1.84 crore rice-drawing card holders covered under the Public Distribution System (PDS) the special pack worth Rs.160 which consisted of one kg of raw rice, one kg of sugar and Rs.100 in cash.

On January 13 (Sunday), all the PDS outlets would remain open.

Saris, dhotis distributed

Ms. Jayalalithaa also distributed free saris and dhotis to a few beneficiaries. M.P. Nirmala, Secretary, Cooperation, Food and Consumer Protection, explained the salient features of the scheme. The Nilgiris Collector Archana Patnaik spoke. Among those present were Mr. Paneerselvam and Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan.