Jaya Spikes Electricity Tax, Resumes Freebies For Poor

Chennai, September 16: | Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
The cash-strapped Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday announced some major populist measures which will make the state poorer by over Rs 200 crore per annum. In a major decision that would benefit over 1.03 crore domestic power consumers, the state Cabinet has decided to withdraw 5 per cent tax on power consumption, introduced in June last.

The government will incur a loss of Rs 101.35 crore on account of the withdrawal of the tax, chief minister J Jayalalithaa said in a press release here.

The introduction of power tax has drawn flak from many quarters with various organisations clamouring for withdrawal of the tax. A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Madras High Court challenging the validity of the tax. The case is posted for hearing on Wednesday.

Pointing that farmers and hut dwellers were already given exemption from payment of the tax, Ms Jayalalithaa said the Cabinet took the decision in the light of representations from the public pleading for its withdrawal.

She also announced that the free saree-dhoti scheme, launched by her government in 1991-92 and withdrawn by her government in 2001, would be implemented from next Pongal day, January 14.

Over 1.55 crore poor people would get 81 lakh sarees and 74 lakh dhotis under the scheme, for which the Cabinet decided to make an increased provision of Rs 120 crore, as against Rs 100 crore made earlier.

Meanwhile, the state government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lee Kim Tah Holdings Ltd, a Singapore-based consortium, for setting up an integrated township at Siruseri IT and Biotechnology Park. The agreement was signed between Lee Soon Teck, executive chairman of the consortium and Arun Ramanathan, state industries secretary.

As per the MoU, the consortium will set up the township spread across 102 acres of land with facilities like 6,000 dwelling units, commercial complexes, schools, park etc. The estimated investment in the project is over Rs 500 crore. The project is expected to be completed within three years time.