Wednesday, March 2, 2011

EC bans free TV distribution in Tamil Nadu

Chennai: A day after the announcement of the poll schedule, the Tamil Nadu election department cracked the whip on district administrations to regulate implementation of various welfare measures. 
   Enforcing the model code of conduct, poll officials ordered district authorities to stop distribution of free colour television sets, a popular scheme of the DMK government, and warned them of strict disciplinary action if they were found violating the rule.
   A few political parties in the state have also formed watch teams to spy on their rivals and ensure they don't violate the poll code.
   Chief electoral officer (CEO) Praveen Kumar said the district collectors and the heads of departments have been asked to stop forthwith distribution of free colour TVs till the election process is over. The free distribution of televisions was among popular freebies that helped DMK win the 2006 assembly elections. The EC's sudden announcement of polls has clearly put a spoke in the DMK's plans.
   Government sources said so far 1.62 crore TV sets had been procured in five phases in a transparent manner and 1.52 crore of these sets distributed to the poor. The government had covered a major section of the population under the scheme and it recently ordered procurement of an additional 10 lakh television sets for distribution.
   "Even tokens have been distributed to some of the beneficiaries to receive the sets," sources added.
   The election commission (EC) has also stalled the inclusion of new beneficiaries into other welfare schemes for insurance and housing.
   However, Praveen Kumar pointed out that those who have already availed of the free health insurance card from the government cannot be stopped from undergoing treatment. "But, the government cannot include new beneficiaries into this scheme," he said. A total of 2,73,557 people have so far benefited from the ''Kalaignar Free Health Insurance Scheme'', implemented by the government, which provides a cover of Rs one lakh.
   On the free housing scheme, the CEO said if the government had already started constructing houses, it could complete them. 

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