Deep-sea port project put off

Special Correspondent

Experts' opinion will be sought: Rangasamy

Legislators critical of port planVAT implementation "inevitable"

Puducherry: Chief Minister N. Rangasamy told the Assembly on Thursday that the Government had decided to get experts' views to ascertain pros and cons of the deep-sea port project at Thengaithittu near here.

Their views, with reference to the environmental impact, would be looked at, and till the report was available all works relating to construction of the port would be kept in abeyance, he added.

Winding up the two-day debate on the 2007-2008 budget, the Chief Minister said there was a plethora of criticisms from most of the legislators against the port project.

There was a plea from some members that the project be scrapped. Residents were also apprehensive that the port would be a threat to farmers and them. Mr. Rangasamy said that he had already made it clear to a delegation from Thengaithittu that the Government would not acquire any fertile lands.

He later told newsmen that the Government would constitute an expert committee to go into various aspects of the proposed port project after the current session of Assembly was over.

The views of legislators for modification of the free-rice scheme would be accommodated. The Chief Minister said that the Rs.2,858.88 crore budget gave thrust to promotion of infrastructure facilities, education, tourism and welfare schemes for the poor. The grants available from the Centre had been on the decline every year. Efforts were made to ensure that the Government mobilised the full funds from within internal sources to avoid as far as possible dependence on the Centre for grants.

The Chief Minister said that Value Added Tax would be implemented as already announced, from June 1. "The implementation is inevitable", he said.

The Government would, however, take necessary steps to ensure that no section of merchants, industrialists and traders were affected by the new regime.Monthly assistance for the aged had been increased to Rs.600 from Rs.500.