The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Tamil Nadu, with total cases standing at 28,694 and Chennai suffering the worst with 19,826 cases. The All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) and All India Democratic Womens’ Association (AIDWA) held protests demanding relief, while caste based discrimination and harassment was reported again this week. NewsClick brings a round-up of the important developments in the state this week.
COVID-19 CASES MOUNT
The state has now an uphill task of handling the SARS-CoV-2 cases as the numbers continue to surge every day. The undesired credit of setting a record on per day spike also continues. The highest single day spike was set on June 5 with 1,438 cases. The last six days have registered more than 1,000 cases, with the week adding up 8,448 cases.
Chennai remains on the hooks with 6,370 cases in seven days, taking the total cases to 19,826. The city has a major share in the number of deaths as well, with 178 of the total 232 in the state. The hospitals in the city are short of manpower as the number of patients admitted increase daily. The doctors, nurses and other staff are going through tough challenges, mentally and physically. To tackle any further increase in admissions in government hospitals, the manpower needs massive increase.
The neighbouring districts of Chennai, Chengalpet and Tiruvallur now have more than 1,000 cases. Read More
3 HIGH COURT JUDGES TEST POSITIVE
Three judges of the Madras High Court and few other staff have tested positive for COVID-19. The court has decided to scale down the functioning and will take up selected cases only. From Monday, June 8, two division benches and three single judges will hear the cases from their residences. This will reduce the number of court staff required to take up the official works.
The high court was closed down on April 19 when a staff of government pleader had tested positive. A personal security officer of a high court judge in the Madurai bench has also tested positive, following which judges and staff have been asked to get tested.
AIAWU AND AIDWA DEMAND RELIEF
The AIAWU and AIDWA held protests across the state demanding relief as the lockdown has affected them adversely. The AIAWU has been continuously demanding the number of days of work under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act from 100 days to 200 days. The demand for revising the daily wage to Rs 600 was also reiterated.
The AIDWA held the union government responsible for the unplanned lockdown as the reason for the loss of livelihood of working women. They said that the lives of women in rural and urban areas have been severely affected as they depend more as daily wage workers.
Both the organisations demanded a cash relief of Rs 7,500 per month for the three months of lockdown which had thrown their lives out of gear.
PANCHAYAT CHIEF ALLEGES DISCRIMINATION
The panchayat chief of Ariyankunju, reserved for scheduled tribes in Tiruvannamalai district, has alleged that he was forced to dig a grave for a deceased upper caste person. Murugesan, elected to the post in the elections held in December 2019, belongs to the Irular community. He alleged that he was forced to dig the grave when he went to pay last respects to the deceased person.
Later, he claimed that he was paid Rs 1,000 for taking up the work, contradictory to his earlier allegation of discrimination. The district administration has held an enquiry and found that he was not forced to do the work. But, he himself had alleged of not being able to discharge his duties as the president of the panchayat, owing to pressure from the members of the dominant castes.
The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front has demanded a detailed enquiry on the incident and the role of dominant caste people in preventing the president from discharging his duties.
MNM LAUNCHES VOLUNTEER PROGRAM FOR RELIEF WORKS
The MNM led by actor Kamal Hasan has launched a program to extend relief measures to the needy in Chennai. He has called upon the residents of the city to volunteer in tackling the situation. The Greater Chennai Corporation remains one of the most affected corporations in the country. The party has created a helpline number to receive registrations for creating a pool of volunteers.
Earlier, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had launched an outreach program of the same model. With the infections continuing their exponential rise in Chennai, the under preparedness of the government in tackling the situation has come in for sharp criticism.
After accusing the Tablighi participants and Koyambedu market, the government is now blaming the returnees from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi for the rise in cases.
INDUSTRIAL WORKERS CONTRACT INFECTION
The industrial hub around Chennai has resumed manufacturing after the relaxations in lockdown were announced. But, the companies are less concerned about the health and well being of the workers, resulting in the workers contracting the infection.
Hyundai Motors India Limited (HMIL) and Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) have officially announced that their workers are infected by COVID-19, though the numbers differ. Around 42 workers of the NSN and 28 workers of HMIL have tested positive till June 1, while the companies claimed a much lower number.
The difficulties of the workers and employees to reach their destination from their residences from containment zones, especially due to the lack of public transport are other major challenges. Read More