Centre "gave its consent; extra spending was for quality rice"

Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition, V. Vaithilingam, on Monday said the Union Government had given “oral permission” to his government for procuring single-boiled rice by providing additional money.

Addressing a press conference here, he said when the territorial administration expressed its desire to procure single-boiled rice and it would need additional expenditure, the Union Government gave its “oral consent.” Only after that the administration decided to procure rice by providing additional Rs.3.16 per kilogram.

Justifying the necessity for spending more, he said “there is nothing wrong in spending more to provide quality rice.” Responding to a query on the demand for constituting an enquiry into the alleged irregularities, he said the Congress was ready and also for a debate in the Assembly on the issue.

“Let Chief Minister N. Rangasamy convene a special session to discuss the issue along with the recent incident of murder that occurred near the Chief Minister's residence, he said.

Elaborating further, he said even Mr. Rangasamy, during his previous tenure, procured rice for PDS distribution at a price higher than that fixed by the Centre. In 2007, tender was called to procure rice at Rs.17.40 per kilo when the price fixed by the Centre at that time was below Rs.15 per kilo.

“Mr. Rangasamy brought the rice from a cartel of mill owners close to him but we changed the policy and procured the rice from all the 32 mill owners. We should debate all these.”

He flayed the ruling government for adopting different yardstick in providing solatium to kin of those met with unnatural deaths. While the government announced a solatium of Rs.5 lakh to a girl who killed in a cracker unit accident, residing in the constituency of the ruling party member, Rs.1 lakh was announced for the family of girl killed in an attack by a monkey at Karaikal, he said.

Similarly, the government announced a financial relief of Rs.1 lakh each only to the family of two fishermen went missing in Karaikal.

He appealed to the government to provide equal amount to the family members of those who met with unnatural deaths.