Tamil Nadu invests in women and Dalits

Long-awaited honorarium of Rs 1,000 gets launch six months away as DMK strengthens TN’s finances while pursuing social justice agenda
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan presents the State Budget for 2023-24. (Photo, Satish Babu, EPS)
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan presents the State Budget for 2023-24. (Photo, Satish Babu, EPS)

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has continued its promised march towards prosperity and social justice. While pulling the state economy out of the debt pile and steadily elevating it to the trillion-dollar dream by 2030, the DMK government has paid heed to the long-standing demands of women and the marginalised. As expected, it has doled out a series of welfare schemes.

Finance minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan on Monday announced the much-awaited monthly honorarium of Rs 1,000 to all eligible women family heads. But he bought another six months’ time to implement the poll promise by fixing the launch date on September 15, the birth anniversary of party founder CN Annadurai. Incidentally, the payments are likely to begin just before the poll bugle is sounded for the 2024 general elections.

Presenting a budget that is viewed as striking a neat balance between the prevailing fiscal situation and the immediate need of the society, PTR described the honorarium as a game-changer. He has allocated Rs 7,000 crore for the scheme that is named as ‘Magalir Urimai Thogai’. Metro rail projects in Coimbatore and Madurai will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 9,000 crore and Rs 8,500 crore respectively, he added. The budget has initiatives targeted at disadvantaged sections.

Among the announcements that may have a great impact is the proposal to bring a new legislation for planning, allocation and utilisation of developmental funds meant for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. The minister said the legislation for the SC/ ST sub-plans will be introduced in the next assembly session after consultation with stakeholders.

The minister announced the Annal Ambedkar Business Champions scheme with an allocation of Rs 100 crore to encourage the emergence of entrepreneurs from SC/ST communities and the ‘Iyothee Thass Pandithar Habitation Development Scheme’ to ensure basic amenities in Dalit habitations at Rs 1,000 crore over the next five years.

The budget addressed another demand by bringing schools run by the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department under the School Education department to ensure better quality. In perhaps the first major infrastructure boost in years to north Chennai, largely home to a working class population, PTR announced that the government will implement the ‘Vada Chennai Valarchi Thittam’ at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore over the next three years.

Taking note of the decline in the number of TN students clearing civil services exams, he said 1,000 civil service aspirants will be provided Rs 7,500 per month for 10 months to prepare for the preliminary test and a sum of Rs 25,000 if they clear the prelims.

Tamil martyrs’ memorial to come up in Chennai

On the environmental front, the budget announced the Tamil Nadu Coastal Restoration Mission to prevent sea erosion, reduce marine pollution, and conserve marine biodiversity at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore in the next five years. Stating that the government is committed to providing all services digitally to citizens in an easy and transparent manner, the minister said the ‘Simple Gov’ initiative would be launched to achieve this end.

To ensure compliance with standards and time-bound development of software, an egovernance fund of Rs 100 crore will be created. The budget proposals evidently reflected on the ruling party’s Tamil identity. A memorial will be established in Chennai to honour the legacy of Tamil martyrs Thiruvalargal Thalamuthu and Natarajan, who sacrificed their lives in the struggle against Hindi imposition.

The minister also announced the government will take efforts to promote and support sea cruises that will connect places of significance in Tamil culture. Another major announcement on the front was the setting up of a Grand Chola Museum at Thanjavur to preserve artefacts and relics of the Cholas. To offer accommodation to Sri Lankan Tamils residing in the state, the TN government has sanctioned Rs 223 crore towards the construction of 3,959 houses in the existing rehabilitation camps.

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