Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Friday launched its initiative to provide Rs 1,000 cash for ration card holders to celebrate the harvest festival of Pongal which falls in January.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami marked its rollout here by giving away the cash and gift hampers containing rice and other ingredients used in making the sweet delicacy Pongal, to 16 beneficiaries. Ration card holders having 'Rice' card are eligible for the cash and gift hamper.
Palaniswami had recently announced that the initiative, which was implemented this year, will be extended to 2020 too.
Pongal, the Tamil harvest festival, is celebrated in the second week of January.
The gift hamper includes one kg each rice and sugar, 20 gm each cashewnuts and raisins and five gm cardamom-- all of which go into the preparation of Pongal.
It also contains a two ft long sugarcane piece. The government said Rs 2363.13 crore has been allotted for this purpose. Palaniswami has said that the government launched the initiative this year to ensure that people celebrate the Pongal festival 'grandly' overcoming the prevailing drought situation in many parts of the state.
He recently announced extending the initiative to 2020, saying though there have been good rains this year, farmers have spent on farm inputs and that many poor families were suffering due to financial constraints.
The chief minister also launched the free saree-dhoti scheme, coinciding with Pongal, to the poor, by distributing it to 16 beneficiaries.
The scheme was launched by former chief minister late MG Ramachandran, also AIADMK founder, in 1983 to help weavers.
As part of the scheme, sarees and dhotis are procured from handloom weavers and distributed among the poor.