Home English CM Stalin announces ₹317.4cr package for SL Tamilian refugees – Hindustan Times

CM Stalin announces ₹317.4cr package for SL Tamilian refugees – Hindustan Times

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Chief minister M K Stalin on Friday made a slew of announcements in the Tamil Nadu assembly amounting to 317.4 crores for the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in the state, including house rebuilding, basic amenities and educational schemes.

The government took the decisions after inspecting refugee camps, Stalin said. As many as 304,269 Sri Lankan Tamils have entered southern Tamil Nadu as refugees since 1983 during the civil war between the Lankan army and the militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), that fought for separate statehood for Tamils. Around 58,822 are living in 108 refugee camps spread out in 29 districts of Tamil Nadu while 34,087 live outside of these camps, Stalin remarked. “I assure you that this government will give them a protected and dignified life,” he told the assembly later on.

Stalin also said his government will soon set up a high-level advisory committee, under the minister for minorities and non-resident Tamils’ welfare K S Masthan, to enhance the living conditions of the refugees, and grant them dual citizenship. It was also an election promise of the DMK to urge the Union government to grant citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamils living in India. “Not just Tamils who live here, our government is concerned about the lives of Tamils who live across the world, and we will take care of them,” Stalin said on Friday.

To improve living conditions, the state has allocated ₹231.5 crores to reconstruct the 7,469 houses, which were in dilapidated condition in the refugee camps. In the first phase, ₹108.8 crores would be utilised for 3,510 houses. Basic amenities such as electricity, toilets and drinking water will be provided with ₹30 crores.

On the education front, Stalin said that the government would offer free education and hostel expenses for 50 Sri Lankan Tamil students living in refugee camps who have been selected for engineering courses. Similarly, the government will also bear expenses for the top five students studying agriculture and engineering courses. The government will also meet the expenses for those who want to pursue higher education.

The chief minister also increased the existing scholarships to students pursuing other courses and introduced an employment skill development program for about 5000 youngsters living in camps. A measure to provide ₹25,000 for each of the 300 self-help groups (SHGs) was also initiated.

He also announced providing free gas stoves and connections for each family with a subsidy of ₹400 each for five cylinders.

The chief minister announced Rule 110 (of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Rules), which was introduced by the late former chief minister J Jayalalithaa to pass suo motu resolutions without holding discussions.

Political analysts say that Stalin is addressing the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils given the fact that the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) founded by Tamil nationalist S Seeman soon after the war with LTTE chief V Prabhakaran as their idol has garnered 6.7% votes in the results of assembly elections announced on May 2. NTK is now the third largest party in Tamil Nadu which is a huge leap from the 1% vote share it received in the 2016 assembly elections. “Based on only the Eelam cause, NTK has scored so much so Stalin is also focussing on it,” says political commentator Raveendran Duraisamy. “Regarding dual citizenship, it is in the hands of the NDA government, but they will not look into it now.”

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