CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday launched distribution of 1.99-crore free Pongal gift packs to ration card-holders, and free dhotis and sarees to two crore people at a function here.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister said all those eligible had the right to get the gift packs and dhotis and sarees. The Pongal gift by the government was akin to the gifts given by parents to their wards and brothers to their sisters for Pongal.
In Madurai district where by-election to Thirumangalam Assembly constituency was scheduled, it would be given after the poll.
To make the distribution hassle-free, the government had adopted a staggering system, Mr. Karunanidhi said.
The distribution of free sarees and dhotis would cost the government Rs. 260 crore.
Food Minister E.V. Velu said each gift pack contained 500 grams of rice and jaggery, 100 grams of green gram, 20 grams each of cashew nut, raisin, and cardamom.
Food and Cooperation Secretary K. Shanmugham said the free packs would cost the exchequer about Rs 70 crore.
K. Rajaraman, Commissioner of Civil Supplies, said to avoid crowding of card-holders at fair price shops, cards in a shop were grouped according to register serials. Each group had been allotted a date and it would be displayed in ration shops. In case a card-holder failed to get the pack on the specified date, he could get it either on January 13 or 14.