Joining issue with his arch rival and AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Sunday said the State had a “debt burden” of over Rs. 74,000 crore only which was less than that of States like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Replying to a set of questions in DMK mouthpiece ’Murasoli’, he denied Jayalalithaa’s recent charges that his government had led the State to a debt trap.

“She had alleged that the debt burden was more than Rs. 90,000 crore but the fact is that it is Rs. 74,858 crore. In fact, the debt burden is in excess of Rs. 92,000 crore in Andhra Pradesh and more than Rs. one lakh crore in Maharashtra,” he said responding to the allegations made in the Assembly recently.

The State was faring better when it came to per capita debt burden and ranked behind these States, he claimed.

While Tamil Nadu’s “debt responsibilities” stood at more than Rs. 28,000 crore when AIADMK came to power in 2001 it was Rs. 57,457 crore in March 2006 at the end of its term.

Karunanidhi reasoned that the money received as debt was being funded for government projects and said it was not possible to implement projects without obtaining loans.

Jayalalithaa had recently said the DMK Government had led the State into a budget deficit and debt trap during its 1996-2001 tenure, but her succeeding government had revived the economy by “judiciously” using resources.