PUDUCHERRY: As the Union Territory has been reeling under severe funds crunch, expectations of getting financial dues released from the Centre are rising with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Puducherry on February 25.Union Minister of State Pon Radhakrishnan’s statement that the PM’s visit will lead to the development of the Union Territory has sparked a hope among the ruling Congress and the people that the PM would take steps to release funds due to Puducherry.
A sum of around Rs 6,662 crore is due to Puducherry from the Centre, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said at a press conference a few weeks ago. The amount includes Rs 1483 crore for non-plan gap grant, Rs 1055 crore for implementing the VII Pay Commission recommendations, Rs 1352 crore for clearing arrears while implementing the pay panel-fixed salaries, a legacy loan of Rs 2177 crore, Rs 370 crore towards pending Thane cyclone relief, rain relief of Rs 70 crore, Rs 150-crore compensation on the electricity tariff count and a gap grant of Rs 150 crore.
On the directions of the Centre, the Puducherry government has implemented the VII Pay Commission recommendations from January 2016. However, the Centre is yet to provide funds to the Union Territory. Similarly, some dues are also pending towards the implementation of the Pay Commission recommendations.The CM has met the Union Home Minister and the Union Finance Minister several times in the past two years.
Apart from the secretaries of the Home and Finance and the expenditure secretary, he also met Modi a few times earlier and in January too, taking up the financial issue with them all.While he has been hopeful of release of funds, the Centre has so far not released the dues to the Union Territory, making it difficult for the government to even pay salaries to its employees.
The expenditure towards salary and pension has increased to Rs 2348 crore with Rs 1685 crore for salary and Rs 663 crore for pension. Yet the non-plan gap grant has remained static at around Rs 570 crore. So, the government is forced to meet the expenditure by stopping certain schemes. Moreover, an additional burden has been thrust on it in the form of repayment of loans borrowed 10 years ago.
Now with the Prime Minister visiting Puducherry, Narayanasamy and his council of minister are hopeful of a review meeting with him in Puducherry for the release of funds.Modi has given an appointment for the CM to meet him at the airport here. But doubt is expressed from several quarters whether there would be scope for the PM and the CM to have a fruitful meeting at airport for redressing the financial woes of Puducherry.
“When the PM has time to address a public meeting and visit the ashram, it is really unfortunate that he is meeting the CM only at the airport”, rued a senior political leader.
Here is Narendra Modi’s tentative schedule in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
5.20 pm: Arrival at Chennai airport by a special flight from Surat(If arrival is delayed from Surat, PM will reach INS Adyar by road)
5.45 pm: INS Adyar by helicopter
5.55 pm: At Kalaivanar Arangam
6 to 6.30 pm: Amma Two-Wheeler Scheme launch and planting of sapling Night Halt at Raj Bhavan
February 25, 9.25 am: To leave for Puducherry
To attend launch of AIADMK mouthpiece at party HQ
Chennai: The entire function is expected to last for 30 to 45 minutes. After this, the PM will be staying at the Raj Bhavan. As part of the celebrations of Jayalalithaa’s birth anniversary, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will be unveiling the statue of the late leader at the AIADMK headquarters and launch the party mouthpiece Namadhu Amma. Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M Thambidurai, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal, Panneerselvam, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, State Ministers Dindigul C
Sreenivasan and SP Velumani will speak at the function. Tight security arrangements
have been made ahead of the PM’s visit to the city on Saturday. Around 15,000 police personnel along with 10 commando companies have been deployed.