File photo of Raghuram Rajan (left) and Esther Duflo (right) | PTI/Facebook @nobelprize
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Chennai: Outlining the newly elected DMK government’s policy, Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Monday said Tamil Nadu is fully committed to achieving greater autonomy for states and at the same time maintain cordial ties with the Centre.

The Governor, in his ceremonial address to the 16th Assembly, his first following the formation of the DMK government in May said an Economic Advisory Council to the Chief Minister would be constituted with leading experts including Nobel laureate Prof Esther Duflo.

The government would take all necessary measures to counter the “possible third wave” of COVID-19 and urged the Centre to increase allocation of vaccines and reject the Mekedatu dam project proposal of Karnataka.

Besides Duflo, former RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan, former chief economic advisor to the union government Arvind Subramanian, development economist Prof Jean Dreze and former Union Finance Secretary S Narayan would be part of the Economic Advisory Council, he said.

This is to reverse slowdown in economic growth, and to chart a rapid growth path.

Based on the council’s recommendations the government would take steps to revitalise economy and see that the benefits of growth reached all segments of society, he said.

The fiscal health of the state is a cause for concern and the government would focus on improving it and bringing down debt burden and a white paper on Tamil Nadu’s finances would be released in July.

“This government stands fully committed to achieving its ultimate goal of greater autonomy for states and establishment of true federalism at the union level through constitutional means.

Strong states are needed to create a strong union.

This government will staunchly stand in defense of the rights of the states and constitutionally oppose any infringement of such rights.”

At the same time, the state would maintain a cordial relationship with the union government as partners in nation building in line with the policy of “extending our hand in friendship, even as we speak up for our rights.”

The Tamil Nadu government is guided by the spirit of the Dravidian movement and identified social justice, gender equality, economic equity, opportunity for all through reservations and progress through education and social reforms as its core values.

“These values will drive every action, every legislation, every scheme, every initiative of this government,” the Governor said.

The state would urge the Centre to give priority to Tamil Nadu people in appointments in its offices and Public Sector Undertakings located in TN. Tamils, especially those who studied in Tamil medium and in government schools would be given priority in recruitment for government posts and the 69 per cent reservation would be continued and protected.

Referring to work on the COVID-19 front including Rs 4,000 cash assistance to people, upgradation of infrastructure, Purohit said Tamil Nadu welcomed the union government “heeding the voices of states” to revert to central procurement of vaccines and supplying it free of cost.

The Centre should ensure adequate vaccine supplies to see that the entire adult population of the nation is vaccinated against coronavirus before the year-end, he said.

On inter-State river water issues, Purohit said the Mekedatu dam proposal was in violation of the Supreme Court.

Kerala and the union governments would be requested to quickly accord clearances for strengthening the Mullai Periyar dam and the government is committed to expedite the Cauvery-Gundaru link project.

The state would take up with the Centre, “retrieval” of Katchatheevu (an islet, from Sri Lanka) and a permanent solution that would prevent “assault, arrest and even loss of lives of fishermen from Tamil Nadu at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy.”

Purohit said the government is committed to promote transparency and accountability in management of temples and a state-level advisory committee would be set up to enhance facilities for devotees and improve maintenance.

The government would act on the basis of the Sachar Committee recommendations and more effectively implement schemes for minorities.

“This will be a people’s government and not a partys government.” The governance would be in such a manner uniting people, who would proclaim that it is “our government.”

The government would urge the Centre to declare Tamil, “as one of the official languages of India” and Tamil should be used as a co-official language in union government offices including nationalised banks in Tamil Nadu and if needed the Constitution should be suitably amended.

Steps to hold local body polls, developing satellite towns, launch of ‘Singara Chennai 2.0′ (the first Singara Chennai plan was implemented during the previous DMK regime) plan to provide world class infrastructure here formed part of Purohit’s speech.

Empowering Lok Ayukta for clean administration, bringing Right to Services Act for quick delivery of public services, a separate budget for agriculture, revitalising farmers’ markets, steps to achieve a target of 125 lakh tonnes of food grain production (2021-22) were among the other features of the Governor’s Address.

“We will elevate the state to a level where all states in India will look up to Tamil Nadu. We will establish beyond doubt that our beloved Tamil Nadu is an unparalleled State in India.


Also read: Ramps to reservations — Karunanidhi’s political legacy includes infrastructure for disabled


 

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