Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday justified the hike in milk price, power tariff and bus fares, saying the decision was taken by the Cabinet to revive the milk producers' co-operative societies, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) and transport undertakings that were on the verge of going bankrupt.

In a statement here, she said the total loss of the transport undertakings in the last year was Rs. 6,150 crore and the government was releasing Rs. 60 crore a month to sustain the transport corporations.

“If the situation is allowed to continue there will be no transport corporations in the State,” she said, adding that the increase in the prices of diesel, tyres and tubes and the salary of transport employees added to the severe burden on the transport corporations.

Similarly, Aavin was not able to pay milk producers even 45 days after they had supplied milk. Though the total milk production in the State was 150 lakh litres, Aavin was procuring only 22 lakh litres.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said her government was left with no option but to hike the rates to ensure that these public sector undertakings continued to serve the people of the State, because the Centre had not offered any help to revive them.

Stating that it was with a heavy heart that she had decided to hike the rates, she said people should understand the situation and not get carried away by the motivated rhetoric of the opposition parties.

She said if the DMK was relegated to the position of third place in the 2011 Assembly elections, it was because it had systematically destroyed these public sector undertakings. “The DMK forced me to take a hard decision and its leader M. Karunanidhi is shedding crocodile tears over the hike in the prices.”

Reacting to Mr. Karunanidhi's claim that he had turned down the proposals made by officials for a hike as he was keen on protecting the interests of the poor, Ms. Jayalalithaa said if only the State government had utilised its borrowings to bail out public sector undertakings, they would not have plunged into a debt crisis.

“However, government loans were utilised for schemes that never benefited the people, but only the rulers. He led the public sector undertakings to their death bed and is now making a hue and cry over the hikes,” she alleged.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said leaders of some of the political parties now occupying the seats of the Opposition in the Assembly wanted her to take a firm decision before the run-up to the elections to overcome the poor fiscal situation. “They told me that I alone was capable of taking bold decisions. Now they are issuing statements against the hike.”