Changes at national level are necessary to fulfil the needs of the people of Tamil Nadu and these changes will happen with the support of the people, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said at Coonoor near here on Saturday.

She was speaking at a function after inaugurating the distribution of Pongal gifts, free dhotis and saris, welfare assistance and launching new development schemes.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said that in the face of drought last year, she evolved a scheme to ensure that people celebrated Pongal happily.

One kg of raw rice, one kg sugar and Rs.100 to 1.84 crore card-holders were provided. The Pongal package was being given this year also at the cost of Rs.281 crore.

Some people thought that they could win over the people by spreading canards against her government. “People are on my side because I extend timely assistance to them,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

On the free dhotis and saris scheme, she said the quality had improved in 2003 during her earlier tenure. This year, saris had been designed in accordance with the taste of beneficiaries.

On account of this, the government incurred an additional expenditure of Rs.73.44 crore. The total expenditure for implementing the scheme this year stood at Rs. 486.36 crore.

The Chief Minister laid foundation stone for projects worth Rs.74 crore and inaugurated schemes implemented at the cost of Rs.21 crore.

She distributed welfare assistance worth Rs.18 crore to more than two lakh beneficiaries.

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