Special Correspondent

“83 p.c. of them have received aid for alternative employment”

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Saturday denied allegations that funds allocated to the State for rehabilitating scavengers was not utilised, saying 83 per cent of them had received assistance for alternative employment.

Reacting to the allegations by Santosh Chowdhary, Chairperson, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, that Tamil Nadu had utilised only Rs.24.52 crore of the allocation of Rs.57.80 crore, he said the allocation was not for a year. “It is the total of the sum allocated since 1992.”

Till 2007-08 the State government had spent Rs.35.03 crore. As regards the additional Rs.21 crore, he said the amount was sanctioned only on July 8, 2008.

Mr. Karunanidhi said after the Centre introduced the rehabilitation scheme in 1992, a survey was conducted in Tamil Nadu in 1993 and 35,561 persons were identified. “Till 2007-08 subsidised loans were given to 29,291 persons. Whenever the DMK was in power the scheme was implemented very effectively,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, only 838 persons were given assistance between 2001 and 2006, when the AIADMK was in power.

Stating that Tamil Nadu occupies the second place in rehabilitating the scavengers, he said the CPI (M)-ruled West Bengal and Kerala had rehabilitated only 10 per cent of the total workers.

Kin also benefit

Mr. Karunanidhi said the State government conducted another survey when the Centre changed the scheme to benefit family members of the scavengers. “A total of 22,811 beneficiaries have been identified and a scheme at a cost of Rs.52.36 crore is being implemented. Steps are being taken to provide self-employment training to 13,101 persons. Another scheme at a cost of Rs.34 crore to benefit 20,000 persons is also being implemented.”

Mr. Karunanidhi said the State government, besides setting up a separate welfare scheme for scavengers, also had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Justice M.S. Janarthanam to provide sub-quota for Arundhathiyars, a community mainly involved in scavenging.

“I regret that without knowing all these details the chairperson has levelled allegations against the government,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.