The State government on Wednesday announced that a welfare board for non-resident Tamils would be constituted as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Non-Resident Tamils’ Welfare Act, 2011, which was enacted during the last Karunanidhi regime.
The legislation was enacted during the fag end of the 2006-11 DMK regime, and the subsequent AIADMK governments [2011-21] did not constitute the board.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced that the welfare board would have 13 members, including officials and representatives from the non-resident Tamil community. The Tamil Nadu Non-Resident Tamils’ Welfare Fund would be created with an initial corpus of ₹5 crore.
A senior official told The Hindu that the board would focus on the welfare of non-resident Tamils and implement schemes directly for them. The existing Commissionerate of Rehabilitation and Welfare of Non-Resident Tamils would be involved in inter-departmental initiatives and those involving the Union government.
Database to be created
A database of non-resident Tamils would be created and those registered with the board would be extended life and medical insurance policies. “In case of death of emigrants from low income groups, financial assistance would be extended to their children for education and marriage,” the Chief Minister has said.
A centre would be set up to provide legal aid to non-resident Tamils. As over 7 lakh workers have returned to Tamil Nadu due to the effects of COVID-19, funds to the tune of ₹6 crore would be earmarked to extend them loans to become entrepreneurs.
“A majority of the non-resident Tamils are keen on depositing their savings in Tamil Nadu. Steps would be taken towards signing MoUs to facilitate them to deposit in government and other industries,” Mr Stalin added.
Under a proposed scheme, ‘My Village’, non-resident Tamils would be able to develop civic infrastructure and schools in their native villages. “They would be invited to extend their help to improve schools, hospitals, libraries in their native villages,” the CM said.
All welfare associations of non-resident Tamils in various countries would be integrated. A sum of ₹4 crore would be allocated for their cultural exchange and interactions over art and literature. Besides, January 12 would be observed as the Day of Non-Resident Tamils, he said.
A total sum of ₹20 crore would be allocated for constituting the welfare board and fund (₹6.40 crore), various welfare schemes (₹8.10 crore), to promote art, literature and cultural exchange (₹5.50 crore).
For the welfare of wards of non-resident Tamils, steps would be taken to impart Tamil lessons to them through the Tamil Virtual University. In addition to the counselling sessions held in Chennai for those intending to emigrate for higher education and employment, sessions would be held in Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai, Kanniyakumari, Thanjavur, Perambalur, Sivaganga and Villupuram districts.
The senior official said that though the Act was passed in 2011, there were discussions on whether to register the board under the Societies Act or whether the Commissionerate would be sufficient without the board.
After the DMK government assumed office in May, officials were instructed to speed up steps towards the action pending over the Act.
[The gazette notification on Tamil Nadu Non-Resident Tamils’ Welfare Act, 2011 can be accessed here ]