Special Correspondent

Such a move will force the State to increase bus fares, says Chief Minister

Mini bus scheme to continueReport on refugee camps sought

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi ruled out lowering sales tax on petrol and diesel saying that this would force the State to increase bus fares.

"We considered the possibility [of reducing sales tax]. If we do so, we will be forced to increase bus fares," he told presspersons at the party headquarters.

Mr. Karunanidhi had ruled out hiking bus fares after the increase in petrol prices. Describing the increase in price of petro products as a "continuing problem," he said the opposition to the hike was justified. The Centre had no other way out in the face of increasing crude prices and its action too was justified. On the various proposals put forth by the Left parties to the Centre to counter the hike, Mr. Karunanidhi said he had not seen them.

He had extensive discussions with Transport Minister K.N. Nehru and officials of transport corporations on future plans. The mini bus scheme would continue, he said and added that there was no move to nationalise these routes.

On the Sri Lankan issue, Mr. Karunanidhi said Tamil Nadu's stand would not differ from that of the Union Government. He hoped the peace talks would continue. On conditions in refugee camps, Mr. Karunanidhi said an article by D. Ravikumar (DPI MLA) was brought to his notice. He immediately requested him to visit the camps and give a detailed proposal. State Government officials would inspect the camps and consider the report.

He said help would be provided to inmates. Central aid would be sought to improve the conditions.

Mr. Karunanidhi recalled that the DMK government had given a host of concessions to refugees, including training the eligible ones in medicine but the AIADMK government had withdrawn them.

Cable TV Bill

Asked about the fate of the Cable TV Bill, brought by the AIADMK government to take over multi-system operators, Mr. Karunanidhi said that it was with the Governor. He advised journalists to examine whether the powers to legislate were with the Centre or the States.

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