K. Manikandan

TAMBARAM: Confusion about the true beneficiaries of free colour television sets scheme in Tirusulam village Panchayat near Pallavaram has forced the temporary suspension of the Government's pet scheme.

Residents alleged that eligible families were ignored, while those already owning a television set managed to get one more.

It was barely a fortnight ago that the scheme was launched without fanfare following complaints about classrooms of the St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union Middle School in Tirusulam being used to stack the TV sets.

Now, Tirusulam residents are alleging favouritism in the choice of beneficiaries and neglect of deserving families. A large number of residents of this panchayat said those who received the free televisions already owned one, while deserving families were ignored. "I have been living in Tirusulam for 40 years now and I am a ration card holder. So far I have not received the free television," remarked Alamelu, a resident of this panchayat, where most families are employed in stone quarries and crushing units.

Echoing her sentiments, Vinayagam, a member of the local merchants association, alleged that eligible beneficiaries were ignored, while free television sets were given to those already owning one. Vinayagam and Alamelu flashed ration cards where officials had affixed the seal to indicate that card-holders had been given the colour televisions. They also have in possession the tokens issued by officials to indicate the same.

J.Shankar, another resident who has not received the benefit so far, charged the panchayat with favouritism in selecting the beneficiaries. Residents recalled that in February, the television sets were stacked in three classrooms of the St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union Middle School in Tirusulam.

During the grama sabha (village council) meeting held on May 1, members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), an ally of ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, too had attacked the mismanagement of the scheme. Sources said beneficiaries were identified by St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union and the distribution done by the Revenue Department.