Congress MLA Yasodha urges him to defer move

The proposed power tariff hike will be marginal and will affect only those who can bear it, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi told the Assembly on Friday.

Intervening in the debate on the budget, he said the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) had not suggested, in its petition to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC), increase for low consumption households. There was no need to believe rumours.

Mr. Karunanidhi was responding to observations of Congress deputy leader D. Yasodha on the tariff hike proposal. She urged the Chief Minister to defer the move.

Pointing out that only the Commission, an autonomous body, could determine the tariff, Mr. Karunanidhi said the Board had sent the proposal to the TNERC.

Land distribution

Later joining issue with the AIADMK's deputy leader in the House O. Panneerselvam over the free land distribution scheme, Mr. Karunanidhi said there was no basis for the claim that there was 50 lakh acres of wasteland in the State.

He explained that his party [at the time of 2006 Assembly elections] had cited the figure of 50 lakh acres as furnished by the previous AIADMK regime.

When Mr. Panneerselvam insisted that there was 50 lakh acres of wasteland, Mr. Karunanidhi said he was not ready to waste time by arguing with him. He recalled his earlier statement in the House that Tamil Nadu had surpassed West Bengal when it came to total area of land distribution.

Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan said while the DMK government was distributing land to the poor, the AIADMK government's objective was only to help big businessmen. “The then Chief Minister (Jayalalithaa) said cultivation could be taken up only in large areas of land.”

Rejecting Mr. Panneerselvam's allegation that unemployed youth in the State were affected by the government's decision to utilise the services of retired State government employees, Mr. Karunanidhi said it was only a temporary measure to ensure that works were not affected due to delay caused by difficulties in regular appointments.“We have explained this to the court and the issue is over now.”