CHENNAI: In a blow to the ruling AIADMK, the Union housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry on Thursday said former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s demand for a grant of Rs 5,000 crore for construction of 50,000 tenements for the families living on the banks of Adyar, Cooum and Buckingham canal and other water bodies in Chennai city and its suburbs, was beyond the scope of the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, a credit-linked subsidy housing scheme.
When AIADMK MP V Maitreyan insisted that minister Venkaiah Naidu make the proposal a special case, considering the high regard that Jayalalithaa had for him (In her last public appearance, Jayalalithaa had said Naidu was a good friend of Tamil Nadu), the latter said if the government came up with an alternative plan, the Centre would give a positive response. “Adyar and Cooum Rivers are facing encroachment on a regular basis. Unless you take some effective steps, these things (flooding) are likely to be repeated,” the minister said, but not before placing it on record that “Tamil Nadu government, irrespective of political affiliation, has taken care of slum dwellers along the riverside.”
The parliament also witnessed the AIADMK stepping up pressure on the BJP government in the wake of criticism from the DMK that it was soft on the Central government and not fighting for the rights of the state. The effect of demonetization and slow growth has already hit the state revenue receipts. No money has so far been released by the Center for relief and restoration work after cyclone Vardah ravaged many parts of northern Tamil Nadu. The state’s demand for Rs 39,565 crore drought relief has not been met too. Obviously, the 49 AIADMK MPs from Tamil Nadu are feeling the heat.
A day after AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala expressed disappointment over lack of mention about relief for Tamil Nadu in the Central budget, Maitreyan moved a special calling attention motion in Parliament on Thursday seeking disaster relief for the state. “In a federal form of government, it is the duty of the Union government to consider and cater to the genuine demands of the state,” he said, pointing to back-to-back calamities of severe nature in the state in the last one year. The party has taken a strong view, especially after an inter-ministerial team submitted its on-the-spot assessment report to the Centre.
While the Centre extended Rs 1,940.42 crore towards flood relief in 2015, which is “way short of total requirement,” what irked the ruling camp is the fact that the Centre did not act even after chief minister O Panneerselvam presented a memorandum to PM Narendra Modi seeking Rs 22,573 crore assistance for cyclone Vardah. During a meeting with party MPs at Poes Garden last week, Sasikala emphasized the core demand of the party in the session would be to seek funds from the Centre on projects sanctioned earlier. AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth on Thursday lamented that only a “meagre” fund was released under JNURM to Tamil Nadu for the period 2013-2015 (Rs 248 crore), and nothing was released for 2015-17.
Credits ET Realty