A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High court to restrain the State government from disbursing pongal cash gift of ₹ 1,000 to all ration card holders in the State, without any restriction on their financial status, in spite of the financial crunch faced by the government, which was burdened with multiple loans and interest liabilities.
J. Daniel Jesudass, 45, a resident of Vellalore in Coimbatore district, had filed the case, which was expected to be listed for admission before a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam on Wednesday. The petitioner claimed that it was absolutely unnecessary to dole out cash gifts when the financial health of the State was very bad.
He pointed out that the total debt liability of the State was ₹3,55,845 crore, besides a new loan of ₹43,862 crore sought by the government, though the revenue was only ₹1,12,616 crore.
Apart from the principal loan amount, the interest component for the loans alone had increased from ₹18,162 crore in 2015-16 to ₹29,624 crore in 2018-19.
A recent report of the Reserve Bank of India on the State budget revealed that public funds spent by the government for payment of interest in 2018-19 were more than the allocation for development and welfare activities. Budget allocation for Agriculture Department in the current financial year was just ₹8,916 crore, he said.
Mr. Jesudass said the loan liability of Tamil Nadu had exceeded that of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The situation was so bad that the government was struggling to carry out relief work in districts affected by Cyclone Gaja, though it is more than 45 days since it caused havoc in some of the districts.
In such trying circumstances, it was not expected of the government to allocate around ₹ 1,900 crore for providing cash gifts as well as gift hampers to all ration cardholders, he said.