HC stays distribution of Rs 1,000 Pongal cash gift to all

People standing in queue outside a ration shop in Porur

Chennai: Madras High Court has stayed the distribution of Rs 1,000 Pongal gift cash stating that it was meant only for people living below the poverty line.

This decision comes after a PIL was filed in the High Court Tuesday challenging the Tamilnadu government’s scheme of Rs 1,000 cash payout to all ration card holders for Pongal festival, contending that the decision had been taken unmindful of the state’s financial condition.

The petitioner had claimed that the total loan liability of the state exceeded that of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and it was in dire need of funds, including to meet the rehabilitation measures in cyclone Gaja-hit areas.

Referring to an RTI information, Daniel Jesudass further claimed the current tax revenue of Tamilnadu was Rs 1,12,616 crores, whereas the total liability was Rs 3,55,845 crores.

The decision to provide cash gift of Rs 1,000 to all ration card holders irrespective of their financial status was totally misconceived, particularly considering the financial condition of the state, he said.

The petitioner had noted that he had no objection to economically poor people being given the assistance, but was only opposing the decision to extend it to all ration card holders. The additional burden to the treasury would eventually be passed on to the people of the state.

The government on 2 January announced a cash support of Rs 1,000 per family for the celebration of Pongal falling on 15 January. An estimated 2.01 crore ration card holders would have been benefited under the scheme.

NT Bureau