Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government would give Rs 1,000 and a gift hamper to every family with a ration card for Pongal, Governor Banwarilal Purohit told the Assembly in his address on Wednesday that was boycotted by the DMK and its allies.
The boycott came despite the governor, breaking convention, requested Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin "with folded hands" to resume his seat.
During his customary speech on the opening day of the Assembly session, he said to mitigate the impact of Cyclone Gaja in the Cauvery delta and drought in the northern districts, the government "will distribute gift hampers containing raw rice, sugar, raisins, cashew nut, cardamom and sugarcane to all card holders to celebrate Pongal festival."
Also, a cash support of Rs 1,000 per family for the celebration of harvest festival Pongal will be applicable to the entire state except in Tiruvarur district where the Model Code of Conduct is in force, in view of the bypoll on 28 January.
Referring to the destruction caused by Cyclone Gaja, Purohit recalled that the state had sought from the Centre Rs 2,709 crore as immediate relief and Rs 15,190 crore for permanent restoration works.
Thanking the Centre for sanctioning Rs 900.31 crore additionally under National Disaster Relief Fund for immediate relief, the governor requested the Union government to extend adequate additional financial help to rebuild the affected houses and restore the livelihood of the people.
On the dispute with Karnataka and Kerala over Cauvery river and Mullaperiyar dam respectively, he asserted that Tamil Nadu will continue to pursue legal options to protect its interests.
Though such river water issues could be "better resolved through mutual trust and understanding, Tamil Nadu has been repeatedly forced to seek legal remedy to protect its legitimate riparian rights", Purohit said, adding Chief Minister K Palaniswami is committed to protecting the state's interests "by all legal means."
Karnataka has been, in the recent past, making overtures to Tamil Nadu to arrive at a consensus on the Mekedatu row. The government reiterated its opposition to both the Centre's nod to Karnataka to prepare a detailed project report for a dam at Mekedatu across the Cauvery river and "attempt" by Kerala to construct a new dam to replace the existing Mullaperiyar reservoir.
The Tamil Nadu governor said the nod for DPR is a "blatant violation" of the Supreme Court judgment on the Cauvery river.
He also said the state government will continue its pursuit of raising the water level in Mullaperiyar dam to 152 feet.
Flagging Tamil Nadu fishermen's arrest and confiscation of their boats by Sri Lanka, the governor said in the last two years, 551 fishermen were apprehended by the island nation's navy and urged the Centre to amicably resolve this issue with Sri Lanka.
On the Sterlite issue, the governor reiterated that the copper plant failed to comply with environmental norms and added that the government will appeal against an order of the National Green Tribunal allowing the plant's reopening.
On 21 December, the Madras High Court's Madurai Bench had on a plea from an anti-Sterlite movement activist directed status quo on the Sterlite issue till January 21 and asked Tamil Nadu to state if it intended to file an appeal against the NGT order.
Over the Dam Safety Bill, Purohit said it "infringes on the state's rights," and flagged Tamil Nadu's suggestions for amendment Bills in Parliament including those on National Medical Commission and motor vehicles, and wanted the state's concerns to be addressed impartially.
On the fiscal front, he said while the revenue deficit has been on the rise mainly due to the devolution formula evolved by the 14th Finance Commission, the implementation of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana and the 7th pay panel recommendations have also widened the revenue deficit.
The DMK and its allies, the Congress and a lone IUML member, boycotted the governor's address on the opening day of the first Assembly session of the year by staging a walkout.
As the governor began his address saying 'Vanakkam' and gave a message to the members saying, "live a simple life", it will root out corruption, Stalin stood up trying to say something.
In a departure from convention, Purohit urged Stalin to resume his seat, saying "please... with folded hands I request you", but the Leader of Opposition continued to speak.
The DMK leader referred to issues like the circumstances surrounding the death of J Jayalalithaa which could not be heard properly.
Governors in the past had gone ahead with their speeches and had not directly asked Opposition MLAs to resume their seats whenever they had tried to raise issues. Also, governors had also not given their "messages," to MLAs in Tamil Nadu Assembly.
The governor, after telling Stalin that he and the other members could discuss the issues later, continued with his address to the House.
A smiling Stalin led the walkout of his party members and those from the Congress and the IUML.
Later, the DMK president told reporters that the government failed on all fronts and opposing the governor reading the government's "failure paper," they boycotted the address.
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Updated Date: Jan 02, 2019 17:00:26 IST