Governor's address: probe into Secretariat construction; cable TV to be nationalised; priority for making State power surplus

Outlining the new AIADMK government's policies and programmes, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala presented in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Friday a mix of fresh initiatives and welfare measures and the withdrawal of some of the schemes of the previous DMK regime.

In his maiden address to the 14{+t}{+h} Assembly, the Governor announced the government's decision to institute a Commission of Inquiry into alleged irregularities in the construction of the new Secretariat-Assembly complex. It would nationalise private cable television operations without affecting the interest of the last-mile local cable operators and launch free distribution of laptops to students, and electric fans, mixies and wet grinders to women on September 15.

The government would give top priority to make the State power surplus by reforming the energy sector. Efforts would be made for improving efficiency in generation, transmission and distribution. Power theft would be curbed.

Two major schemes of the previous DMK regime – the Kalaignar Housing Scheme and the Kalaignar Insurance Scheme – would be scrapped. Instead, the AIADMK government would implement a solar-powered Green House Scheme for the rural poor and a public health insurance scheme to achieve the objective of universal health care.

The Commission of Inquiry into alleged irregularities, the Governor said, would be headed by a former Judge of the High Court. It would cover excess expenditure, inordinate delay and deficiency in standards of construction. Further, works in the new Secretariat complex would be stopped to facilitate the inquiry.

Defending the move to shift the Secretariat to Fort St. George, the Governor explained how the “unnecessary administrative hardship and inconvenience to the public” was caused when offices of Ministers and a few departments functioned from the new Secretariat complex and other departments remained at Fort St. George.

In view of the “overwhelming demand” from the public for the immediate revival of the Arasu Cable TV Corporation to provide cable TV services at reasonable rates, the government would revive its activities in the public interest and nationalise the private cable TV operations.

The free laptop scheme would cover higher secondary students in government schools and government-aided institutions as also students of the government colleges and government-aided colleges. The coverage would be carried out gradually. This year, laptops would be given to 9.12-lakh students.

On the front of higher education, the government decided to restore the “original status” of the Anna University, Chennai. The rationale behind this move was that the creation of new Anna Universities in different places had “weakened” the Anna University of Chennai, resulting in the creation of unviable institutions and non-improvement in the quality of education.

Mono Rail project

The government would implement the Mono Rail project in Chennai to integrate with the existing transport system. Investigations would also be undertaken for introducing mono rail systems in Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchi.

Effective September 1, beneficiaries of social security schemes would receive their pension or assistance money through their bank accounts and the banks would, in turn, extend the doorstep service through banking correspondents. Mr. Barnala read out only the salient features mentioned in the text of his address, while Speaker D. Jayakumar read out the Tamil version of the address in full.