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Assistance to fishermen must be 100 per cent grant, says Jayalalithaa

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, FEB. 5 . The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, has written to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, emphasising that the assistance to the tsunami-affected fishermen should be on a 100 per cent grant basis.

Following up on her earlier letter to the Prime Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa yesterday deputed the Chief Secretary and a team of officers to New Delhi. They met the Cabinet Secretary at his invitation and pointed out that the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs, dated January 31, "is unambiguous and releases the entire subsidy amount only to the State Government."

In a follow-up letter to Dr. Singh, a copy of which was released to the press, the Chief Minister said: "I am at a loss to understand why a needless controversy is being allowed to grow, when all our efforts should be focused on the rehabilitation programme for fishermen. May I request that the order dated January 31, 2005, releasing the entire amount for fishermen to the States be implemented as such? In the event that an individual fishermen seeks and obtains a bank loan, suitable arrangements will be made by the State to connect the subsidy with the bank loan involving the Bank concerned."

Ms. Jayalalithaa was responding to a letter from the Prime Minister dated January 31 which, she noted, had reached her only this evening by post and not in advance by fax. She thanked him for "the appreciation of the relief and rehabilitation work undertaken by the Government of Tamil Nadu."

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