Remaining colour TV sets to be given away to government institutions

June 10, 2011 03:40 pm | Updated June 11, 2011 12:55 am IST - Chennai

NO LONGER FREE: A man collects his free colour television that was distributed in Mahatma Gandhi Road, Krishnagiri. File Photo: N. Bashkaran.

NO LONGER FREE: A man collects his free colour television that was distributed in Mahatma Gandhi Road, Krishnagiri. File Photo: N. Bashkaran.

Alleging that the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government introduced its free colour television distribution scheme only to promote the cable TV business run by members of the family of her predecessor M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday said 1.27 lakh TV sets yet to be distributed under the scheme would now be given away to government institutions such as hospitals, orphanages, schools and panchayats.

Four-day debate

Replying to a four-day debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his address, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that the DMK government had decided to distribute 10 lakh TV sets in the sixth phase of the scheme. Of these, 7.48 lakh sets, for which procurement orders had been issued, were yet to be bought. This procurement would be cancelled.

As many as 1.27 lakh sets had been purchased but were yet to be distributed. Orders had been issued for giving away these televisions to orphanages, government schools, panchayats, government hospitals, health sub-centres and anganwadi centres.

“All schemes involving freebies introduced by the DMK government were marred by corruption, and the TV scheme is one example,” the Chief Minister said. The 1.64 crore TV sets distributed by the government cost Rs.3,687.10 crore. The average cost of a television set was Rs.2,265.

“Those who rule the roost in the cable TV network business in Tamil Nadu are Mr. Karunanidhi's grand-nephews Kalanithi Maran and Dayanidhi Maran and grandson Durai Dayanidhi. The people pay Rs.4,000 crore as cable subscription every year. By spending Rs.3,687 crore of public money, Mr. Karunanidhi helped his family earn annual revenue of Rs.4,000 crore.”

Questioning the rationale for giving away television sets to all those holding family cards, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that the DMK regime conducted no survey of how many families did not have a colour TV set before implementing the scheme.

The government order stated only those households that did not have a colour TV were eligible for receiving free sets, but oral orders were given to distribute them to all families holding ration cards.

As per the 2001 Census, there were 1.42 crore households in Tamil Nadu, of which 56 lakh families owned TV sets.

However, there were no statistics on colour TV ownership.

“Even if you take into account the possibility that only half these families owned colour televisions and that there may have been an increase in the number of families since then, members should ponder whether only families without colour TVs had got these 1.64 crore sets,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

Vital necessity

“It is a thin line that divides some vital necessity given free of cost and freebies aimed at deceiving the people, and we are well aware of the distinction.”

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