Tamil Nadu continued to report fewer fresh cases of COVID-19 as the pandemic slowed in the southern state in the recent weeks. The number of fresh infections fell below the 2,000-mark per day in the last eight consecutive days.
Meanwhile, the left-wing Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) held state-wide protests demanding that more than half lakh vacancies in the electricity board be filled up. The protestors also flayed the delay in recruiting the selected candidates as foremen in the board.
The ups and downs in the relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) continued in the wake of the former’s Vetrivel Yatra. Both the parties are accusing each other over the issues pertaining to the Yatra, but remaining together as allies has been necessitated by the upcoming assembly elections in the state.
The Vice Chancellor of the Anna University is set to face an enquiry on various charges, including graft and corruption. The pollution in Chennai city has seen a drop on Diwali day this year. NewsClick brings a round-up of the happenings across the state this week.
DAILY COVID-19 CASES DROP BELOW 2,000
The number of fresh COVID-19 infections continued to decline as the state reported under 2,000 cases in the last eight consecutive days. The total number of infections in the state increased to 7,66,677 with 11,568 fatalities till November 20. The number of active cases dropped to 13,404.
The number of tests has seen a marginal drop as well, with daily tests ranging between 68,000 and 70,000 during the week.
The drop in fresh cases is also reflected in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) area with less than 500 new cases reported in the past week. The total infections there increased to 2,11,084 with 4,622 active cases and 3,802 casualties.
After almost 30 days, Tiruvallur, Coimbatore, Kanchipuram and Chengalpattu districts reported more than 100 cases on November 20.
DYFI DEMANDS ELECTRICITY BOARD RECRUITMENT
Under the leadership of DYFI, youth from across the state held demonstrations demanding the filling up of vacancies in the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). TANGEDCO has had around 52,000 existing vacancies for the past several years. The corporation and the government have been accused of delaying the appointments to the gangman positions in the organisation.
The electricity minister in the assembly in March this year announced that 10,000 gangmen vacancies will be filled. Around 15,000 candidates appeared for the test and the results were announced in May 2020. The appointment is pending for the past six months increasing the anxiety of the youth.
Scores of youths led by the DYFI protested in front of the TANGEDCO offices. The DYFI also accused the TANGEDCO of privatising works instead of filling up the vacancies. The educated youth are waiting for long for appropriate jobs as the unemployment rate has been increasing steadily across the country and state. Read More
‘BJP-AIADMK NEED EACH OTHER FOR SURVIVAL’
The ruling parties in the state, the AIADMK and BJP are continuing their relationship amidst mounting controversies. The parties are relying on each other for political gains in the upcoming assembly elections as both are facing anti-incumbency.
Though Chief Minister Eddapadi K Palaniswami himself stated that the cordial relationship was intact between the two parties, all is not well in the alliance. The BJP state leadership, who are continuing their Vetrivel Yatra after it was denied permission by the state government, has been training guns on the AIADMK for detaining the participants of the yatra.
A statement was published in the mouthpiece of AIADMK accusing the BJP of appeasing the majority population in the name of religious beliefs for votes. The alliance seems to be going through rough patches but continues to hang on for the fear of backlashes in the assembly elections.
ENQUIRY AGAINST ANNA UNIVERSITY VC
The Vice Chancellor (VC) of Anna University is set to face an enquiry over graft charges, corruption and misuse of power with regard to appointments. The Department of Higher Education has set up a one-member committee headed by retired judge P Palaiyarasan to look into the allegations.
The VC has been accused of various serious charges by the Save Anna University, the government order said. The Students Federation of India (SFI) held a protest near the university and demanded his suspension. A small group of students were seen supporting the VC as well. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) also demanded the suspension of the VC as he is facing charges of irregularities with pending enquiry.
The relationship between the governor and the VC M K Surappa turned strained after the latter wrote to the Union Education Ministry on the Institute of Eminence (IoE) status for the university without consulting the government. The VC was reportedly handpicked for appointment by the Raj Bhavan, the first non-Tamil person to occupy the position.
POLLUTION DUE TO FIRECRACKERS REDUCED THIS YEAR
The pollution in Chennai reduced during the Diwali festival this year. The toned-down celebrations owing to the economic slowdown and the pandemic contributed to the reduction in pollution.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) manual station in Besant Nagar recorded PM2.5 of 37 microgram/cubic metre against the PM2.5 of 58 microgram/cubic metre recorded in the previous year. The other stations in Chennai, T. Nagar, Nungambakkam, Triplicane and Sowcarpet followed a similar pattern.
The Air Quality Index was reported to be 98, with PM 2.5 and CO as prominent pollutants. However, the restrictions on the time for bursting crackers was violated in many parts as more crackers were burst till late in the night. The permitted time for it was 2 hours in the day--from 6 am to 7 am and from 7 pm to 8 pm.
CHILD LABOUR ON THE RISE
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase of child labour in many parts of the state. Around 200 children and adolescent girls have been rescued from several industries. The menace of the child labour has made a strong comeback, with minimal relief for the workers struggling for jobs and income.
The lethargy of the government is evident as the position of chairperson and members to the Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights (TNCPCR) remains vacant for months. The absence of officers in around 20 districts in the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) has hampered the field visits. The actual number of child labourers could be much higher, given the limited inspection being carried out.
Children have been rescued from the firecracker industry in Sivakasi and textile industries in Tiruppur district. As many as 174 children were rescued in two different operations held in a single garment factory in Tiruppur district.
The emerging threat is the return of these children to schools after the pandemic comes to an end. The impact of the pandemic would be felt in the education sector as soon as the schools reopen. Read More
TN MINERALS LIMITED IN SHAMBLES
The rampant corruption and looting of natural resources by private entities has resulted in the Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN) fighting for survival. The employees and workers of TAMIN have been paid only half of their salary since April, citing the loss of revenues due to the pandemic. Apart from the wage cut, the employees have been denied safety equipment, uniforms, allowances and their earned leave for the past 18 months.
The influential private lobby has succeeded in holding back the industry from booming. The political parties and the governments too have allegedly aided the tycoons, resulting in the present condition of TAMIN. The organisation has shut down production for the past five months while environmental clearance has become another issue.
The corruption was rampant in the industry, but the true impact was known only in 2012, after a revenue loss of Rs 16,000 Crores was reported in Madurai district. The total loss across the state was pegged at Rs 1.1 lakh crores, which the government refused to concede. Read More
CRISIS IN LAKSHMI VILAS BANK
The Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) has been placed under moratorium till December 16, but its lending and recovery policies with regard to corporate loans are drawing attention. According to some of the 94-year-old bank’s shareholders, sanctioning of huge loans in three years and alleged collusion of the board of directors with the borrowers have led to the present crisis.
A demand for merger of LVB with a public sector bank is being raised by shareholders and investors, who are opposed to its merger with Singapore’s DBS Bank. Meanwhile, bank unions continue to demand criminal proceedings against wilful defaulters and total recovery of corporate bad loans.
LVB continued as a traditional bank till 2017, after which it shifted focus to corporate loans from small and medium enterprise loans. The lending and recovery policies need major changes as the present mechanism has shown very little encouragement. Read More