Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday allowed the Tamil Nadu government to distribute Pongal gifts of Rs 1,000 to ration card holders who come under the NPHH-S (non priority household only for sugar) category.
This move comes after the state government on Thursday moved the Madras HC seeking to add ‘sugar cards’ category to the green list. With this order, more than ten lakh people will now get the freebie in addition to the over 1.8 crore people already approved.
With the latest order, only 40,000 people who use ration card as an identity proof will be denied the Pongal gift.
The Tamil Nadu government, in its petition, told the HC that sugar card holders belong to the weaker sections of the society. It stated that of the total 10,11,330 ration card holders from NPHH-S category, more than 4 lakh people had already collected the gift from ration shops.
Since more than 40% of the families in this category had already received the gift, the court allowed the remaining people to avail the gift.
The HC had come down heavily on the state government for its Pongal gift and observed that the culture of freebies has changed the mindset of the people, wherein they now think getting freebies is a norm.
The government assured the court that new rules and guidelines will be put in place with regard to the distribution of freebies from next year.
The state government on January 2 had announced a cash support of Rs 1,000 per family for the celebration of the harvest festival of Pongal.
The festival falls on January 15. On Tuesday, a petition was filed in the Madras HC contending that the announcement was made without taking into account the state’s financial condition.
“Why are you distributing Rs 1,000 as Pongal gift to all ration card holders irrespective of economic status? It is public money not party funds,” the court had observed.
The petitioner had claimed that the total loan liability of the state exceeded that of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and it was in dire need of funds, including to meet the rehabilitation measures in cyclone Gaja-hit areas.