Special Correspondent

Government's new initiatives come in for praise from parties

Panel sought to improve standard in rural schoolsStreamline functioning of Urdu Academy: IUML"Form separate department to spread rationalist ideas"DPI demands white paper on wasteland-for-landless-farmers scheme

CHENNAI: Members belonging to the Congress, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Monday commended the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Government's new initiatives such as waiver of cooperative loan, distribution of rice at Rs. two a kg, reactivating Uzhavar Sandhais (farmers' markets) and supply of eggs twice a week under the noon-meal scheme.

They also pleaded for measures to provide more concessions and relief to farmers, workers, dalits and students.

Enhance cash relief

Participating in the debate on the motion of thanks for the Governor's address, Congress member P. Veldurai urged the Government to reduce the deposit for new power connection for agricultural pump sets as small farmers found it difficult to remit Rs.50,000. He also pleaded for reactivating the welfare board for Palmyra workers and enhancing cash relief to the next of kin of the Palmyra workers who died in accidents in work spot to Rs. two lakh. He called for appointment of an experts' panel to improve the standard of education in schools in the rural areas.

His party colleague E.S.S.Raman stressed the need for passing a resolution in the House in support of the Centre's decision to implement 27 per cent reservation for the other backward classes in higher educational institutions. He expressed the hope that the Government would announce a scheme to provide free power supply to weavers. He demanded necessary steps to ensure a lasting solution to problems posed by illegal sand mining.

V.Sivapunniaym (CPI) demanded re-introduction of the monopoly procurement scheme for the benefit of farmers. The welfare board for the farm workers should be revamped. He asked the Government to raise allocation for group houses to Rs. one lakh from Rs.33,000 per unit. A separate department should be formed to spread rationalist ideas, he said. He urged the Government to evolve a master plan to protect the delta region, which bore the brunt of natural calamities.

Abdul Basith (IUML) urged the Government to streamline the functioning of the Urdu Academy in the State.

Withdrawal of cases

Earlier, intervening in the debate, Minister for Agriculture Veerapandi S.Arumugam said the Chief Minister would shortly announce a decision on withdrawing cases "foisted" by the previous Government against opposition leaders for bringing to light starvation deaths in the delta.

Minister for Environment T.P.M.Mohideen Khan said a viable solution would be found to the issues relating to pollution caused by dyeing units in and around Tirupur.

K.Selvam (DPI) demanded that the Government present to the House a white paper on the wasteland-for-landless-farmers scheme. He wanted to know how much land there was in each of the districts and also the amount available in the delta districts. Would all landless farmers be granted wasteland in their own districts, he asked.