In the last five years, Puducherry has forged ahead in all fields and has now achieved the “number one spot” among all States and Union Territories in the country, Union Minister for Home Affairs P. Chidambaram said here on Sunday.

He was inaugurating 1,431 houses built at a total cost of Rs.81.80 crore as part of the tsunami rehabilitation programme in Kalapet, which benefited fishermen from four coastal villages of Kanagachettikulam, Periyakalapet, Chinnakalapet and Pillaichavady.

So far, of the proposed 7,567 houses for tsunami-affected fisherfolk in Puducherry and Karaikal, 2,712 have been built by various NGOs and 1,591 tenements by the government of Maharashtra. The territorial government, with the help of funds from the Central government, had taken up the construction of 3,264 houses, among which 2168 have been completed.

Mr. Chidambaram said that efforts initiated by the UPA government, for rehabilitating tsunami-affected victims, had been so effective that it had ensured there was “no evidence” of the calamity in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu in just a matter of six years.

Commending the territorial government for completing the Kalapet project swiftly, he said that there was no leakage of funds and the entire work was finished within the initial estimated cost. “This was a certificate for the government's honesty and efficiency,” he said.

Referring to a recent countrywide survey on the status of school education, Mr. Chidambaram pointed out that the Union Territory had been placed at the top when it comes to educational opportunities provided for its people.

Puducherry also had the distinction of being the only place where medical education was being offered free in the country. This apart, the Union Territory had also shown tremendous development in infrastructure such as roads, water and sewerage facilities, he said.

Mr. Chidambaram said that when people elect a government they should ensure if it “reflected one's feelings and understood their aspirations.”

The government should also be one that serves all communities in society without any discrimination.

Union Minister of State V. Narayanasamy said that the plan allocation for the Union Territory during the NDA regime was “a mere Rs.900 crore” whereas the allocation for the current year under the Congress-led UPA government was Rs.2,500 crore. Except on the “issue of employment,” the Union Territory has developed leaps and bounds in all other spheres in the last five years, he said. Referring to the swift completion of all tsunami-related works, Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam said that the government would provide funds to the tune of Rs.1 lakh for repair and renovation of existing houses for fishermen. Distribution of application forms for this scheme would soon begin, he said.

Later, Mr. Chidambaram inaugurated the newly constructed bridge across Thenpenniar at Soriankuppam near Bahour. Built at a cost of Rs.13.6 crore by availing funds from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, the bridge would shorten the distance from Bahour to Cuddalore.