TAMIL NADU

No starvation deaths: CM

CHENNAI JAN. 28. The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today denied there were starvation deaths in Tamil Nadu. Intervening during the debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor's Address, she said all the 13 deaths in the drought-affected areas were due to illnesses or accidents or suicides arising out of family quarrels.

However, the Congress leader, S.R. Balasubramaniam, said the Chief Minister had not adduced any proof to substantiate her claim that the deaths were not related to starvation. Some of the illnesses could be due to malnutrition, he pointed out.

The Chief Minister countered saying she had obtained the details from the Collectors and the police.

The CPI leader, G. Palanichamy, said the issue was not whether they were starvation deaths or not. But, people were driven to commit suicide because of mounting debts.

The Chief Minister, dismissing suggestions that the noon-meal scheme was a flop, said 11,33,573 had registered under the scheme, and 9,00,450 availed of it. By the end of the month, 12 lakh people were expected to register.

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