TN Min targets DMK over ST status for fishermen

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Chennai, Aug 8: Tamil Nadu Assembly today witnessed a war of words between ruling AIADMK and main opposition DMK on several issues, including law and order, Tsunami relief and a plea to include fishermen under marine tribes category in the Scheduled Tribe quota, which saw brief stalling of proceedings.

Trouble started after AIADMK member K Manickam (Sholavandan) said Madurai had witnessed several crimes like murder during the DMK regime, but has now become a 'haven of peace' after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa assumed office.


DMK members, led by party whip R Chakrapani, immediately demanded that Speaker P Dhanapal expunge the remark. Chakrapani said the remark should either be kept off the record or the DMK legislator's view over it be registered.

Dhanapal said nothing new had been said by the member and urged DMK members to resume their seats. However they continued to voice their demand for some more time. Later, DMK member KPP Samy said his party chief M Karunanidhi had taken steps 'even at midnight' to bring back fishermen from Sri Lankan custody when he was in power. He also referred to his party chief's demand that fishermen be named marine tribes under the ST category.

Intervening, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said DMK had no locus standi to speak on it as they had "slept" over the issue despite sharing power for 17 years with many Central regimes. He said Karunanidhi had even once said fishermen are greedy. Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin said the Minister may air views, but avoid using words like DMK had no locus standi to speak, to which Jayakumar wondered what the alternative was.

He said 2,489 arrested fishermen and 357 impounded boats had been brought back from Sri Lanka and all efforts were on to get back 102 remaining boats. Samy dwelt on rehabilitation work done by DMK after the tsunami in 2014 and said they had allocated Rs 1,000 crore for it, to which Jayakumar said that in 2008-09 and 2009-10 (DMK regime) only 26.85 per cent and 6.78 per cent of funds were spent for the work, which was a "betrayal" of fishermen.

The Minister said the CM had allocated Rs 1,495 crore for relief work, including housing and insurance components. Such allocation was not spent properly by subsequent DMK regime. He claimed that during AIADMK regime 99 per cent of funds was spent in 2014-15 and in 2012-13 and 2013-14, 86 per cent and 84 per cent.

He and Revenue Minister R B Udhaya Kumar said Tsunami relief and rehabilitation work undertaken by the Chief Minister had come in for praise from all quarters.

She had even sent Tamil Nadu officials to Sri Lanka to guide them on such work based on their request, they said. Kumar said people knew where the Opposition 'hid' when the Tsunami struck even as Jayalalithaa had led from the front in rescue and relief work.A total of 74,128 houses were built for beneficiaries under Tsunami relief work.


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