Spurred by the positive reception that earlier schemes received, the state government announced a plan to sell medicines at subsidised prices under its favourite brand, Amma.
State finance minister O Panneerselvam, while presenting the annual budget, said that a total of 210 Amma Pharmacies will sell medicines at subsidised rate. The initiative comes after the runaway successful of Amma Canteens that sell idli and rice at nominal rates and Amma packaged drinking water that costs Rs 10 a litre.
The government headed by AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa, who sees herself as a contender for post of Prime Minister, allotted a lion’s share to social welfare schemes as was expected in this election year. In Panneerselvam’s words, “Her success in leading our state to prosperity will surely elevate her as a national leader.”
The budget estimates show a substantial allocation of Rs 17,731 crore towards school education and Rs 3,627 crore for higher education. The health department too received a hike to Rs 7,005 crore, while food subsidy tab has been fixed at Rs 5,300 crore. Among the rest, Rs 4,200 crore was allotted for various social security schemes; Rs 2,000 crore for distributing free fans, mixer and grinder to 35 lakh households; Rs 1,100 crore to provide free 5.50 lakh laptops to plus two and polytechnic students and Rs1,475.42 crore for initiatives under Integrated Child Development Services Scheme.
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Rs.1,412.88 crore for noon-meal programme for school students; and Rs.751.09 crore for various marriage assistance schemes (cash and gold). The home department, headed by the CM will receive Rs 5,186 crore up from nearly Rs 3,200 crore last year.
The government has also announced yet another effort to clean up the critically-polluted Cooum river that passes through Chennai carrying its filth. This has been a promise by successive governments, though it never made any substantial progress on the ground.