Special Correspondent

Focus on PDS, old age pension, mid-day meal scheme

The hearing highlighted institutional failure in reaching government services

CHENNAI: Residents of the coastal fishing hamlets from six villages in around Tiruporur Reserved Constituency and Tiruporur Panchayat Union on East Coast Road aired grievances on the failure of government services.

The public hearing on food security and entitlement issues covered Public Distribution System (ration shops), old age pension, mid-day meal scheme, and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

The hearing was co-hosted by the Chennai Metro Construction and Unorganised Workers Union and Anusuya Foundation for Women and Children.

Several women from Kanathur, Kovalam, Muttukadu, Nemeli, Sulerikadu and Salavankuppam, Pattipulam, under the Tiruporur Reserved Constituency and also Tiruporur Panchayat Union besides Devaneri, and Mamallapuram said they were being denied old age pension and widow pension.

The Supreme Court appointed Advisor for Tamil Nadu on Food Security and entitlements, V. Suresh, said the hearing highlighted institutional failure in reaching government services in six villages to the most marginalised sections of society.

“Based on the inputs given by the participants in this hearing, we would like to experiment with the panchayat president as a nodal point for implementing all services for the poor in each village who will liaise with the Tahsildar, and whose responsibility is to get various clearances,” he said. Similar public hearings will take place at Villupuram and Cuddalore.

A.K. Venkatasubramanian, former Union Secretary Civil Supplies, appealed to the women self-help groups and heads of panchayat to educate the masses about the various government welfare programmes and then demand them as a right.

Janaki Raman, president of Kovalam Panchayat, agreed to extend a helping hand by making Kovalam Panchayat as a role model.

Saraswathy Rajendran, a former Professor of Queen Mary’s College, said it was regrettable to note that there were still gaps and denial in the implementation of food security and entitlements to the poor and the marginalised communities.

D.K. Oza, former Vice-Chancellor, Gandhigram University, participated in the hearing.