Vanakkam! Honorable Union Minister of State for Shipping and Finance, my elder brother, senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party, in Tamil Nadu, who has devoted his whole life for the service of the people of Tamil Nadu, honorable Shri Pon Radhakrishnan ji; Honorable Minister of Electricity, government of Tamil Nadu, a person with whom I have worked very closely when I was the Power Minister and who has always supported me in my work and has helped me make Tamil Nadu power surplus for the first time in history, honorable Shri Thangamani ji. Honorable Minister for Information and Publicity, Shri Kadambur Raju; honorable Member of Parliament, Shri Jeyasingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee from Thoothukudi; honorable MLA from Srivaikuntam, Shri S. P. Shanmuganathan; honorable Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan and director of the BPCL and also senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, president of BJP, Tamil Nadu; Shri Rakesh Kumar, the chairman and managing director of NLC India limited and chairman of NTPL, all the directors of NLCIL, NTPL, BHEL, deputy chairman of the port trust, all my colleagues both from NLC and NTPL present in this room and who have joined us through video-conferencing from NLC at Neyveli, all the union leaders both of NLC and NTPL, all the officers of the central government and state government present here, all the friends from the media, print media, electronic media and now digital media also, and all my beloved citizens of Thoothukudi, brothers and sisters, friends.
It is indeed, for me a great moment to visit the NTPL plant in Thoothukudi. I am extremely happy to be with all of you today. I would first of all like to pay homage to the two jawans of CRPF from Tamil Nadu, Subramaniam G. from district Thootukudi and Sivachandran C. from district Ariyalur who gave up their life, who did the supreme sacrifice so that we can all live in peace. To both those families of the jawans, I give my heartfelt condolences and respects, veeravanakkam to both the jawans. But their sacrifice will not be wasted.
Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi gave full freedom to the armed forces to give a reply to the terrorists in the same way so that they can never again raise their voice. All the terrorists, and all those who support terrorists, beware, because India will not leave them. Our country is safe and secure and we have a leadership, we have Prime minister Modi who will not spare anybody who casts an evil eye on India. And the whole country today is proud of our son of Tamil Nadu, Abhinandan Vardhaman. He comes from a family from Thirupanamoor, a village near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu and today the whole world is seeing the proud parents, Air Marshal and doctor who gave birth to this illustrious son of the soil. Let us all stand and give our thunderous applause to Abhinandan, so that the voice goes all the way to Delhi. Just like Abhinandan shot down the Pakistan air force plane, this applause that you have done just now will scare Pakistan so that nobody can ever look at India and ever try and sponsor terrorism against India. And in this fight against terrorism, the whole country is one, the whole country stands united.
I am actually also very happy that I am in Thootukudi today which gave birth to Subramanya Bharthi, one of the greatest son of the soil and a nationalist. His contribution to India’s freedom struggle is legendary. He had a dream of an India, which is free from hunger, which is free from discrimination, which is free from untouchability and which has a clean environment. Subramanya Bharathi ji wanted India and Tamil Nadu to lead the world. He had written “ellarum ellinelai edumanal arriai”. Have you understood? – “India will show the world how to become free from every bond.” I have to come to Tamil Nadu now more often so I have to learn Tamil little-little. Please forgive me my wrong pronunciation. My friends from AIADMK and Pon and Tamilisai will teach me Tamil language slowly-slowly.
Today is an auspicious day, Maha Shivratri. Though it is the darkest night of the year, on this night we celebrate Lord Shiva. Tamil Nadu is the one state which has maintained the worship of Lord Shiva in the most ancient form even today. I am told in Thoothukudi there is a 700-year-old temple, Arulmigu Sankara Rameswarar temple. Thoothukudi is also one of the gateways of the country, one of the most important ports and that is why it is called the pearl city. Today, we are adding one more pearl to Thoothukudi. We had originally planned a 150 MW solar power will be ready by today and commissioned but I am happy to know that the engineers of NTPL have worked day and night and instead of 150, they have completed 200 MW of solar power. The power plant, coal-based power plant of 1000 MW is also being dedicated to the nation today.
Some people were asking my managing director, but this plant started some time ago why are we doing a function today? But today we are dedicating the plant to the nation. I had challenged my officers that I don’t want this plant to be dependent on imported coal. It should be having coal coming from India, from the coal block which I had given them in Talabira. I am happy to report to all of you that only recently now the coal mine in Talabira has got mining permission and now we are going to start mining coal from there. And 100 percent coal will be Indian coal, coming in this Indian plant made by BHEL and giving electricity to my Indian brothers and sisters. And therefore, I compliment each and every employee, management, union leaders, contractors, everybody who has worked to make this a reality and to give this pearl to Thoothukudi.
Some time ago the engineers also from Tamil Nadu from the integral coach factory in Chennai were given the task of making India’s own train set. About 2 and a half years ago Prime minister Modi gave this challenge to my railway engineers in Chennai and they created and developed India’s first locally designed, Indian designed, Indian manufactured train set which is running from Delhi to Varanasi called Vande Bharat express. But some people tried to make fun of the engineers of Chennai, of engineers of the Integral Coach Factory and tried to show that our engineers had failed. I think they do not respect India, they do not respect Indian talent, they cannot appreciate anything Indian. They want us to continue to import everything from Italy. I want to tell all those people we are proud of our engineers, we are proud of our workers and we will make India the greatest country in the world. Our trains made by Indian engineers we will export to Italy but not import anything from them.
On honorable Amma’s birthday, I had come to Chennai when Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi was launching the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sanman Nidhi. I had participated with honorable Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and other leaders in a programme by which we are giving Rs 6000 to every small and marginal farmer, 12 crore farming families all over the country will get Rs 6000 every year under PM-Kisan Yojna. Amma also cared for the farmers, she was a farmer leader. Prime minister Modi also cares for our Indian farmers. He has seen poverty, he has seen difficult times. His whole childhood he has suffered because his family was poor, they lived in a small house, it had no electricity. They did not have proper healthcare. Their mother had no cooking gas LPG connection. Most families didn’t have toilets.
Prime Minister Modi’s heart beats for the poor and the middles class. In the interim budget, he gave the new scheme which will help the small and marginal farmers to supplement their income. These 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are serving the nation. They have made India food secure. We have sufficient food grain in India so that we don’t have to import any food grains from anywhere in the world. This scheme is not a favor that India is doing to its farmers. It is a mark of respect we respect, “sanman”, we respect the farmers and, therefore, this is to support them in the time of need and every year they will continue to get Rs 6000 for years and years to come.
In the same way, our kaamgar, our workers are working day and night but many people who are in the unorganized sector, who are running their own small work, carpenters, masons, some are working in people’s homes. The unorganized workers do not have social security. So we have the new scheme which will be launched tomorrow by which unorganized workers will get Rs 3000 pension when they retire after 60 years age.
Similarly, our middle class is serving the nation. They may be having income up to 50,000, 40,000, 60,000, 70,000 every month. But they also require support. They also deserve support and, therefore, taxable income up to Rs 5,00,000 has been given exemption, so that anybody has a taxable income up to Rs 5,00,000 now does not have to pay any income tax. There are many other deductions and exemptions available when you pay interests on housing loans, if you are in a service you get standard deduction of Rs 50,000. If you invest in certain savings up to Rs 1,50,000, you get that deduction. Many people take education loans, that interest is also exempt. Some people contribute to national pension scheme, Rs 50,000 of that is also exempt. If you take health insurance, mediclaim, there also you get exemption. Today, even with income up to 8 lakh, 8.5 lakh, 9 lakh, with all these exemptions you can save money and not have to pay tax. 3 crore families will benefit because of this. I am sure a lot of the people on video conference and who are here will also now be exempt from tax fully. Even the standard deduction for all these employees has been increased. All of this is not a favor.
NLC has become one of the best company in the country. It has almost doubled its power generation capacity. Its turnover has also doubled. More important, the tariff of power that they produce has come down by nearly 20 percent. More than 50 percent of the power that they generate is used by the people of Tamil Nadu.
I have certain targets for NLC, so I am not making any announcements today for NLC employees. But I do hope that the plant that they have to complete, the new thermal plant, will be completed quickly, so that after the elections I can come there and also congratulate you personally. But today since I am in NTPL for the hard work and the successes that my brothers and sisters in NTPL have achieved, I am pleased to announce a gift of Rs 8000 to each and every employee of NTPL.
We also have a lot of contract workers, CISF workers, CISF employees, jawans who are serving NTPL. For them also, a special gift of Rs 3000. Now my brothers and sisters in NLC, my brothers and sisters of NLC have to complete the target I have given them for the plant very quickly so that I can come there and make some good announcements over there also. While I was sitting on the stage, honorable Minister Pon Radhakrishnan ji mentioned a small request. He gave me this letter just now. He said that people of Kanyakumari are coming from Chennai or going to Chennai and there is one train every day but it is always heavily booked. So he was requesting there is one other train Chennai to Tambaram, Chennai-Tambaram to Nagercoil which is coming once a week. He has requested me to increase the frequency. I am happy to announce that that will now run 3 days in a week. Chennai to Nagercoil, 3 days in a week.
Honorable Minister Raju has also given me a request. Now, this is not one request. There are four requests in this. But I didn’t have enough time between this, giving me the letter and by the time I was called to speak. So far I could only examine only one request because I have to ask from the Railway board, get the clearance that the path is available but at least today I am announcing that there will be a stoppage for Antodaya express at Kovilpatti. So I direct the TRM to ensure Antodaya starts stopping at Kovilpatti at the earliest and please examine the other three requests and see what more we can do. My officers keep warning me don’t do like this. Otherwise, next time you go to a programme, there will be 100 people waiting with requests. But after all, these are people’s genuine demands. And these leaders are working day and night to serve you.
So once again, I want to express my thanks to all of you who have assembled here, who have joined me today in this lovely programme, in this very important programme. Thoothukudi has added a new era of development and going forward, I am sure we will see lots and lots and lots of more developments in Thoothukudi, in Tamil Nadu and in India under the strong and able leadership of Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi.
There is more thing I announced in the budget. I don’t know if my fishermen brothers and sisters have noted it. First, there will be a separate department of fisheries in the government of India which will focus, which will look at all the difficulties and problems of fishermen and work for a better tomorrow and better future for them. Second, they will all be given Kisan credit cards. And third, the loan that the fisherman takes that also he will get 2 percent reduction when he takes the loan and when he repays the loan on time, an additional 3 percent interest reduction. So now farmers and fishermen interest rate will be the same for the loan that they take – 4 percent.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman, thank you very much, my brothers and sisters, of Thoothukudi for this warm welcome. I am very-very happy to be here with you and I look forward to coming here, again and again, to meet with all of you.