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Allocate funds for thatched schools, Karunanidhi tells DPA legislators

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JULY 17. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president, M. Karunanidhi, today wrote to the Democratic Progressive Alliance MPs and MLAs to find out whether government or aided schools in their constituencies functioned in thatched roof structures.

In that case, they should allocate funds from their Constituency Development Fund, he said in a communication, a copy of which was released to the press.

The DMK Trust set apart Rs. 25 lakhs to provide relief to those affected in Friday's Kumbakonam school fire. A committee, comprising Ko.Si. Mani (chairman), R. Durai, S. Kalyanasundaram, S. Ramalingam, Maduram Padmanabhan and K. Anbazhagan, was formed to identify the beneficiaries, Mr. Karunanidhi told mediapersons here.

Answering questions, he said that from 2001 five major fire accidents had occurred in the State. This only meant those in positions of responsibility had not taken steps to avert such accidents. Drawing a parallel between yesterday's accident and the January 2004 blaze at a marriage hall at Srirangam, he said that in both the cases, the stairs were very narrow. After the Srirangam tragedy orders were issued on fire safety measures in buildings. But none of them seemed to have been implemented, he said.

Licence should be given to run a school only after ascertaining whether it had open space, spacious classrooms and broad stairways.

But the Government was insisting on the open space rule only in places such as Anna Arivalayam (DMK headquarters) here and not in schools, he alleged.

Asked whether he would want a commission to go into the fire, he said that there did not seem to be any conspiracy. But he was not against an inquiry commission being set up.

On the action taken against some officials, he said there was nothing wrong in punishing the guilty.

To another query, Mr. Karunanidhi wanted to know why the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, wrote to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, after describing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime as a ``non-performing Government.'' On her contention that the UPA Government had only slogans and little else, he said it was Ms. Jayalalithaa who issued contradictory statements in the Assembly.

He wanted to know whether her announcement in the House that a resolution would be tabled to dismiss the Karnataka Government was a slogan or policy statement.

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