Tamil Nadu's Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar on Wednesday directed the District Collectors and the Revenue Department to immediately stop the distribution of free colour television sets till the end of the election process.

If officials were found to have abetted such distribution, they would face severe disciplinary action, Mr. Kumar said.

The directive follows the receipt of information by the CEO on distribution of TV sets in some parts of the State.

As on February 28, about 1.62-crore sets were distributed under five phases of the free colour TV scheme. A Revenue Department official said that as part of the sixth phase, 10-lakh sets were to be distributed. About 60,000 sets were given to beneficiaries when the model code came into force. Coupons had been issued to about 9.1-lakh beneficiaries.

About Rs.4,000 crore is said to have been spent by the government in the last five years for the scheme, according to an official of the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu.

The CEO said no new beneficiaries should be identified and given assistance under the old age pension scheme and other similar welfare measures.