Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday wrote to the prime minister seeking the revival of rice subsidy given to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees housed in various camps in the state.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said the subsidy on rice being supplied to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees has been suddenly withdrawn and the reasons mentioned by the centre for this "do not stand scrutiny".
The 50, 674 refugees, residing in 108 camps, had sought refuge in the country during the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka during 1983-96. They have been waiting to return to their motherland as soon as normalcy returned there.
"I wish to bring to your notice that the sudden influx of refugees and their sustenance in India has always been recognised as an international issue. It is for this reason that the government of India has all along provided the rice subsidy scheme. The sudden withdrawal of subsidy on rice given to refugees, when they are still here, is inexplicable," she said.
Procedures could be simplified and "this cannot be the reason for a change in policy," she said.
Jayalalithaa said, "I am of the view that administrative inconvenience cannot be cited as a reason for taking a policy decision, which has wide ramifications. Moreover, the annual commitment for the government of India on rice subsidy for refugees is hardly seven crore rupees. The number will dwindle if normalcy returns to Sri Lanka".She said the state government has all along been bearing the expenditure to the extent of Rs 25 crore towards providing "basic minimum needs", that is cash doles, shelter, food, clothing and utensils in camps and the state government has to wait for reimbursement from the Union government. "It is not humane to leave the refugees in the lurch especially when they are waiting to return to their motherland. As the issue has wide international ramifications, may I request you to kindly intervene and restore the rice subsidy for the refugees as before?" she wrote.