TAMIL NADU

`It's a stage-managed show by Baalu'

CHENNAI, AUG. 14. The State Government today turned the tables on the Union Shipping Minister and South Chennai Member of Parliament, T.R. Baalu, claiming that Tamil Nadu was the number one State in utilisation of funds under the MPs Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

(Yesterday the Union Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation, Oscar Fernandes, held a review following a complaint from Mr. Baalu that various schemes under the fund were not being properly implemented.)

In a signed statement, the Information and Local Administration Minister K.P. Anbalagan, charged that "this whole show has been authored and enacted by Thiru Baalu solely with the intention of obtaining media coverage to blame the AIADMK Government." Mr. Fernandes "appears to have unwittingly walked into this stage-managed show" and held a press conference even before taking up an official review with the officers concerned.

In a point by point rebuttal of the charges of non-completion of projects under the MPLADS, Mr. Anbalagan said the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam administration and the DMK Mayor in Chennai had taken up some of these projects without planning and sanction of staff to render them non-functional even after completion.

The dispensary on Lloyds Road was built "without any sanction for the required staff". The AIADMK Government "under the guidance of Hon'ble Chief Minister Puratchi Thalaivi Amma took stock of this pathetic state of affairs and a plan of action has been chalked out to make the dispensary functional by suitable redeployment of staff."

As for the Industrial Training Institute at Lloyds Colony, an ITI, normally under the purview of the Director of Employment and Training, was built and completed by the Chennai Corporation, headed by a DMK Mayor in 1999. "The requisite sanction for staff to make this operational was not obtained... In view of this ill-planned situation, only ad hoc arrangements were made to run this for a year, which could not be sustained."

On the Chromepet bus shelter funds, the statement noted that Mr. Baalu himself had indicated that the funds could be used for other works. These were utilised for different works and not returned, as he alleged.

`Highest utilisation'

Mr. Anbalagan said Tamil Nadu's utilisation of funds under the MPLADS was 93.76 per cent, "being the highest among the group of major States".

The cumulative total released to Tamil Nadu was Rs. 942.35 crores, of which Rs. 883.54 crores was utilised. The percentage of utilisation, according to an annexure, was 91.07 for Karnataka, the only other State to cross the 90 per cent-mark.

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