Rs. 300 crore for Pongal gifts to ration-card holders Water bodies desilting work to create jobs

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday constituted a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam to study further relief to be provided to farmers in the Cauvery delta region.

She also announced a Rs. 300-crore scheme to distribute Pongal gifts to 1.84 crore ration-card holders. The gift package, each costing Rs. 160, will include one kg raw rice, one kg jaggery and Rs. 100 for buying other ingredients for Pongal. “This will ensure that people will happily celebrate the Pongal festival,” she said.

In a statement here, Ms. Jayalaithaa said she had already ordered relief to the extent of Rs. 13,692 per acre under crop insurance scheme and disaster relief fund.

The high-level committee, she said, would study the drought situation and crop loss and make recommendations regarding taluks and unions that should be declared drought-hit areas.

“Relief should be given to farmers in due time based on the recommendation. My government will also ensure that farmers are not subjected to any difficulty and release relief in a fair manner,” she said.

She said the committee would include the Electricity Minister, Municipal Administration and Rural Development Minister, Housing Minister, Agriculture Minister, Co-operative Minister, Food Minister and Fisheries Minister. The Revenue Administration and Relief Commissioner will be the member secretary and secretaries of the departments concerned will be ex-officio members.

The Chief Minister said in order to provide compensation to farmers who had lost livelihood and were facing unemployment, the government would undertake works for desilting water bodies to ensure effective water management to create large-scale employment under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

She said due to the failure of the North-East monsoon and Karnataka’s refusal to release water as per the distress sharing formula, there was a delay in releasing water from Mettur dam and the water already released was also stopped.

“This has affected samba cultivated in the delta region and thaladi in the tail-end region,” she said.

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