CHENNAI: State Rural Development Minister KR Periyakaruppan on Friday accused Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami of spouting lies against the State government and said that only Rs 611 was spent on a banner each for Namma Ooru Super Iyakkam program.
Dismissing the corruption charge levelled by EPS as “baseless allegation” made to defame the popular government led by chief minister MK Stalin, Periyakaruppan told reporters at the Secretariat that no single firm was given the work order to print the banners, as was alleged by Palaniswami in his complaint.
Clarifying that about 89 firms were engaged to print the banners in 27 districts, the Rural Industries Minister said that about 84,653 banners of three different measurements (6x4ft, 10x8ft and 12x8ft) were printed. Describing as ‘lie’ the allegation of the LoP that the government had spent Rs 7,906 per banner, the minister said that about Rs 611, inclusive of GST, was the average sum spent per banner. Citing the finding of Swacch Sarveshkar Grameen that TN has ranked third nationally in rural sanitation and cleanliness program, the minister said that he was duty bound to clarify when a former CM and LoP makes allegations. Taking exception to EPS’s comment that the incumbent government has snatched the rights of civic bodies, Periyakaruppan said, “Everyone knows who did it. They did not conduct elections during their tenure. EPS led govt had murdered democracy by not conducting elections to local bodies. It deprived the state of several central funds.”
Also clarifying that the banners were printed by the panchayats, which also handled the funds, he said that the government had only sent the designs. Referring to various scams in bulb procurement and banner erection in the same department during the previous AIADMK regime, Periyakaruppan said that he has made claims based on the information given to him by someone. “People would laugh at the LoP for making such claims. Whoever gave the inputs, the LoP should be wary of them in future because they have made the LoP make baseless allegations and caused an embarrassment to him. He should identify them,” the minister added.
Asked if individual panchayats had committed irregularities, he said, “If a mistake had indeed happened somewhere in some panchayat, the panchayat president would be punished for that. We have laws in place for that. They will be issued notice. Reply would be sought. They cannot be sacked straight away. It’s a democratic country. They are also elected by the people. If they had erred, they would be punished by following due procedures. If they (ADMK) point out specific complaints, we can initiate specific action on them.”