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TN This Week: 75 Youth Organsations Oppose EIA, Heavy Rainfall in Nilgiris District, Demand for Focussed Testing to Contain COVID-19 Spread

NewsClick brings a roundup of developments across the state this week.
TN This Week

The COVID-19 positive cases have declined marginally in the state with experts demanding focussed testing and more tests per positive case. They have also insisted on putting a mitigation plan in place for the state.

Meanwhile, the Nilgiris district is severely affected by unprecedented rain and landslides. Two people have lost their lives in the district.

The sanitation workers of Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and neighbouring Puducherry Municipality have demanded wages as per norms, while they continue their role in fighting the pandemic.

On the other hand, a forum of 75 youth organisations has demanded the repeal of the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) bill. NewsClick brings a roundup of developments across the state this week.

COVID-19: CASES IN CHENNAI DROP, FOCUSSED TESTING DEMANDED

The number of new cases stood below 6,000 for the past eight days after a string of 6,000+ daily positive cases. The number of deaths is on the increase though the number of cases is decreasing. The number of total casualties increased to 4,690 and the number of positive cases increased to 2,85,024.

The GCC reported less than 1,000 cases on August 7, in only the second such instance since July 3. However, the health secretary has cautioned people against celebrating the dip in cases. The number of peoples’ representatives affected also increased this week as three more members of the Assembly and Lok Sabha tested positive. The governor has also tested positive for COVID-19.

The experts have demanded that the Health Department focus more on focussed testing, tracking, and prioritising more tests per positive case. The state holds the distinction of testing fewer people per positive case, even when occupying the top position in terms of the absolute number of tests. Read More

RAINS WREAK HAVOC IN NILGIRIS

In what is seen as a repeat of the previous year, parts of Nilgiris district witnessed high rainfall, strong winds and landslides on August 5 and 6. Two lives were lost in the devastating rain, which is continuing in the district. Traffic has come to a standstill while electricity has been disconnected in the majority of the areas.

A 40-member team of the National Disaster Response Force was pressed into service to rescue the stranded people. More than 250 tribal families were evacuated owing to the danger of incessant rain cutting off accessibility. The families are lodged in schools that have been converted into relief camps.

Hundreds of trees and thousands of banana plants were uprooted due to the severe winds. The district administration has also closed highways for night traffic for two days to avert danger.

YOUTH FORUMS DEMAND WITHDRAWAL OF EIA

The Chennai Climate Action Group, together with 75 youth organisations, has sent a statement conveying their disagreement on the draft EIA. In a detailed response to the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the forum has accused the draft of diluting the existing laws as per the 2006 notification.

The text read, “We are writing to urge you to abandon the draft EIA Notification, 2020, which is the latest in a series of actions taken by your ministry to dilute environmental laws in the name of ‘ease of doing business.”

The organisations have termed the draft as anti-constitutional as it “rewards violators”, “rewards regulatory lethargy”, and turns the task of environment impact assessment into environment management. See More

CHENNAI AND PUDUCHERRY SANITATION WORKERS DEMAND RIGHTS

The sanitation workers, one of the most risk-prone workforce in the fight against the pandemic, are still deprived of the wages they deserve. The Red Flag union, an organisation of the sanitation workers of the GCC, has been demanding the Rs 624 per day prescribed in government order No.62 (2D) dated October 11, 2017. The union has accused a deputy commissioner of the corporation of prohibiting the sanctioning of wages.

The sanitation workers of the Puducherry Municipality held a strike on August 3 against the non-payment of salary for two months. More than 500 workers abstained from work on the issue, while more than 750 pensioners of the municipality have not received the pension. The municipality has requested financial aid from the territory government, owing to the lack of income due to the pandemic.

REINSTATE DISMISSED CONTRACT WORKERS IN KKNPP

The contract workers of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) have demanded the reinstatement of the office bearers of the union. The decision to reinstate the dismissed office bearers of the Tirunelveli District Koodankulam Contract Workers Union was taken on November 25, 2019, in conciliation talks.

The union has also demanded that the contract workers be enrolled in a group insurance scheme keeping in view the pandemic. The youths of the Radhapuram taluk, who form a good percentage of the workforce, face an uphill task of obtaining the police verification certificate. The union has also demanded simplification of the process of issuing the certificate without delays. Read More

IT EMPLOYEES’ UNION OFFICE BEARERS ALLEGE RETRENCHMENT

The office-bearers of the employees' unions in IT companies have alleged illegal termination from their service. The office bearer of IT/ITES Employees wing of National Democratic Labour Front was terminated from Wipro, while an office-bearer of All India Federation of IT Employees (AIFITE) was terminated from Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS).

Shyam Sundar was terminated from Wipro after serving for 18 years, without any prior information. He was unable to log in to his profile on August 1 and he received his termination notice the next day. Vinod, the general secretary of AIFITE, received a termination notice on August 3. The AIFITE has been fighting against the illegal retrenchments in CTS and the termination has been attributed to his employees' union activities. Read More

FISHERMEN OPPOSE NFP

The fishermen across the coastline of the state have opposed the draft National Fisheries Policy (NFP).

The draft has been published only in English and Hindi, leaving most of the stakeholders dependent on others to understand the content.

The fishing hamlets, prone to erosions, hailstorms, and other natural calamities were expecting a fair deal from the union government, but have been given a severe blow by the draft. The restriction of state power to 12 nautical miles, making permission compulsory for deep-sea fishing would take a hit, permitting corporate companies to exploit the wealth of the sea.

The fishing community has already been reeling under the lockdown due to the lack of business. Read More

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