TAMIL NADU

`Hike quota or allow direct procurement'

CHENNAI, MARCH 17. The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today urged the Centre to increase the monthly allotment of kerosene from 58,000 to 1,00,200 kilo litres (kl) or allow the State to directly procure it for the public distribution system (PDS).

Intervening in the debate on the demand for grants to the Cooperation, Food and Consumer Protection Department in the Assembly, she said the Centre had gradually reduced the allotment from 77,108 kl in 1999-2000 to 58,000 kl. The State received 67,876 kl a month from 2000 to 2002; 62,398 kl in 2002-03; 60,144 kl in 2003-04 and 58,392 kl in 2004-05.

Since the monthly kerosene allotment was inadequate in view of the increase in the number of ration cards, she took up the issue with the Prime Minister after the new Government took over. She also wrote to him pleading for enhancing the allotment.

But the Centre provided a `one-time allotment' of 17,000 kl now. Of this, 6,500 kl each would be supplied this month and the next month and 4,000 kl in May.

Another 17,000 kl was earmarked for the State for distribution in the tsunami-hit districts. Of this, the State Government released 3,636 kl in January, 3,840 litres in February and 852 litres this month.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said she wanted to make thingsclear as some confusion was caused over the issue during the debate.

K. Ponmudi (DMK), who initiated the debate, and M.P. Kamaraj (PMK) urged the Government to ensure proper supply of kerosene under the PDS.

Incentive to ryots

Mr. Ponmudi said the Government should provide procurement incentives to farmers.

The Food and Cooperation Minister, Pollachi V. Jayaraman, said that as the whole country had become a single food zone, the State Government followed the decentralised procurement system of the Centre with effect fromOctober 1, 2002. The Tamil Nadu Civil Supply Corporation had become the procurement agency for the Food Corporation of India.

The Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, also said the incentive should be provided by the Centre.

The Leader of the Opposition, K. Anbazhagan, said if the procurement price was not remunerative, the State Government could provide incentives to farmers as transportation charge or under some other head as was done during the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam rule.

Members includingV.K. Lakshmanan (Congress), V. Sivapunniyam (Communist Party of India), K.C. Karunakaran (Communist Party of India-Marxist), P. Arasan (Bharatiya Janata Party) and M.P. Kamaraj stressed the need for early elections to cooperative societies.

Mr. Lakshmanan urged the Government to appoint a commission to suggest ways of ensuring cooperative polls regularly. A seminar should be organised to evolve a model cooperative Act.

Recommended for you