: A number of MLAs including Deputy Speaker Pollachi V. Jayaraman appealed to the State government to supply coconut oil through the public distribution system.

The issue started with a question posed by Thanga Tamilselvan, the ruling party member from Andipatti, whether the government would take steps distribute coconut oil in fair price shops instead of palmolein oil.

Elaborating his request, the member said 10 lakh copra farmers in the State were now in distress in view of poor economic returns.

Mr Jayaraman also joined him in promoting the use of coconut oil and urged the government to supply the oil. A few more members including S. John Jacob (Congress) and N.S. N. Nataraj (AIADMK) strongly supported their colleagues.

They all wanted the government to launch a publicity drive against, what they called, an adverse campaign on coconut oil and argued that consumption of the oil would be beneficial to the health of the people.

In his response, Food Minister R. Kamaraj recalled that when the State government made attempts in 1984 to supply coconut oil to people in Chennai, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari and

The Nilgiris through the PDS, the reception was not good even in Kanyakumari, bordering Kerala [known for extensive use and consumption of coconut oil]. At that time, the Centre had allotted 1,050 tonnes of coconut oil to the State.

Positive aspects

Explaining the positive aspects of palmolein oil, the Minster added that the State government was providing an annual subsidy of Rs. 508 crore for the distribution of palmolein oil at Rs. 25 a litre. The Union government was allotting 17,800 tonnes of palmolein oil to the State.

Friend of farmers

The Minister told the House that as the government led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was a friend of farmers, the request of the Deputy Speaker and the members on coconut oil would be taken to her notice.