The announcement of the Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections has brought an end to various workers protests in the state. However, transport workers have decided to continue their strike citing an existing government order to finalise wage revision talks.
The town of Sivakasi was witness to another accident in which five workers were killed and around 20 injured. In another accident two men engaged in manual scavenging lost their lives due to asphyxiation in Chennai on February 26.
The state government announced another set of loan waivers, this time for agricultural loans availed by women self help groups (SHG).The Vanniyar community has been granted 10.5% reservation – within the 20% reservation for Most Backward Classes (MBC) – in jobs and education through a resolution passed in the assembly barely an hour before the elections were announced. NewsClick brings you a round-up of the happenings this week.
ANOTHER LOAN WAIVER AND INTERNAL RESERVATION
The announcement spree by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government continued until the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced dates for the assembly elections on Friday. Agricultural loans availed by the SHGs up to six sovereigns stand waived.
The state assembly passed a resolution to provide internal reservation for the Vanniyakula Kshatriyars or Vanniyars in jobs and education. The ruling AIADMK’s alliance partner – the Dr. Ramadoss led Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) – has been demanding 20% reservation for the community. The Bill reserves 10.5% for the community within the MBC quota.
The Chief Minister announced that the measure was temporary and the same could be subject to change after a caste-based Census was carried out.
The government announced yet another single-year increase to the retirement age of employees to 60 after an increase by a year in 2020. The financial strain of the government was cited as the reason for the increase even as the government has announced several loan waivers recently. Several employees, teachers unions and youth organisations have opposed the move.
With hardly two weeks left for the nomination filing process to begin, all the political parties have stepped up their campaigns and seat-sharing talks are set to pick up pace for want of time.
FIRECRACKER UNIT BLAST KILLS 5 WORKERS
In another major accident in Sivakasi, five workers lost their lives while more than 20 workers were injured on February 25. The chemicals and manufactured crackers continued to explode for more than two hours after the incident, delaying rescue work. Around ten sheds in the factory premises were totally destroyed in the accident, the third in this year.
The second accident which took place on February 12 had claimed the lives of 23 workers.
Lack of safety measures and licencing rule violations along with the lack of skilled workers in the firecracker factories have led to several accidents in the region. Read More
ANGANWADI WORKERS, DIFFERENTLY ABLED PERSONS SUSPEND PROTEST
The Anganwadi workers withdrew their protest on February 24 after the second phase of their sit-in protest had extended for three days. The women workers stayed put in front of the district collector’s offices across the state to insist on their demands.
The workers withdrew their protests following promises from the authorities, who sought two days to consider their demands. The workers were on a second phase of protest after having suspended their state-wide agitation on February 9, following similar promises.
Organisations representing the differently-abled and caregivers suspended their protest on February 27 due to the Model Code of Conduct coming into force. Even after they had begun a road blockade protest from February 23 the government did not pay heed to their demands. The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) have been demanding an increase in monthly financial aid and reservation in jobs. Read More
TRANSPORT WORKERS CONTINUE STRIKE
Trade unions from the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) announced that their indefinite strike would continue despite the election dates being announced. Its office bearers announced the decision at a meeting on February 26 in front of the Pallavan Illam, the headquarters of the corporation.
Public transport, including long distance services, remained highly affected. In Chennai the metro rail corporation increased the frequency of services owing to the strike.
The wage revision for workers has been pending from September 2019 and they have held several protests demanding it and the disbursal of pensionary benefits.
SCHOOL QUESTION PAPER CREATES CONTROVERSY
The management of the Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) Boys School, Chennai issued a clarification after a question paper for Class X students called the protesting farmers as “violent maniacs”. The clarification came after social media outrage and a letter sent by several alumni from the school.
While there was not a single word expressing regret, the letter claimed that the opinion of the teacher cannot be considered to be that of the school. The statement further added that the school “believes in the need to nurture independent thinking amongst children and also abide principles and ethos as enshrined by the Indian constitution.” The DAV group of schools is run by Arya Samaj Educational trust.
TWO MEN DIE DUE TO ASPHYXIATION
Two men lost their lives inside Fort St George while cleaning sewage on February 26. The fort complex consists of the state assembly and several other government offices. Three other men, engaged by the contractor, managed to come out of the tank and save themselves.
A case has been filed against the contractor under Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, and Section 304A of the IPC (Causing death by negligence). A series of such deaths due to the banned practice has failed to seek the attention it deserves from the government. Read More
KARNATAKA GOVT OPPOSES RIVER LINKING PROJECT
The government of Karnataka has raised strong opposition to the river linking project announced recently by the Tamil Nadu government. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami laid the foundation stone for the Cauvery-Vellaru-Vaigai-Gundar linking project for utilising surplus water from the Cauvery river, with much publicity.
The Karnataka CM and water resources minister have objected to the proposal. Water sharing issues between the two states have a long history and any knee-jerk action could end in amplifying tensions. The Karnataka government had also decided to approach the Ministry of Jal Shakti to register their opposition.