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The Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu on Friday scrapped another pet scheme of the Karunanidhi regime by ending free colour TV distribution on which over Rs 3,600 crore was spent in the past five years.
According to Jayalalithaa, for the nearly 1.60 crore TV sets, people paid Rs 4,000 crore annually for cable connection, which business is controlled by (Karunanidhi's grandnephews) Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran (who own Sumangali Cable Vision) and (Karunanidhi's grandson) Durai Dayanithi.
Thus people paid more for the cable connection, Jayalalithaa, who has already announced that cable services in the state will be nationalised, told the assembly.
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Replying to the debate on the motion to thank Governor Surjit Singh Barnala for his address, she said the orders for around 7 lakh colour TV sets to be procured under the sixth phase of the scheme have been cancelled.
Over one lakh colour TV sets already procured in the sixth phase would be distributed to orphanages and anganwadis among others, she said.
Maintaining that the distribution of free colour TVs to beneficiaries lacked proper planning, the AIADMK chief said the sets were distributed not on the basis of applications received.
Instead, a DMK government-appointed committee had overseen the process, "which resulted in people coming in cars" to get a TV set that cost a little over Rs 2,100 per unit, she said.
Asserting that her party was not against schemes aimed at social welfare, she said she was however clear where the line had to be drawn when it came to schemes and freebies meant to garner votes.
"The DMK demeaned welfare schemes (by calling them) as freebies. They only viewed them as tools to garner votes. It is not charity but schemes being implemented on taxpayers' money," she said.
After coming back to power with an overwhelming mandate in the April 13 assembly polls, Jayalalithaa has reversed several flagship programmes of the Karunanidhi government, including free housing and medical insurance, apart from announcing a judicial probe into alleged irregularities in the construction of the assembly-cum-secretariat complex.