In the past week, the number of COVID-19 infections in Tamil Nadu crossed 6 lakh, with the casualties inching towards 10,000. A recent research has found that the state along with Andhra Pradesh accounts for higher concentration in the 40-69 year age group in both incidence of cases and deaths due to the disease. The government has extended the lockdown with more relaxations till the midnight of October 31.
Meanwhile, sensing trouble over the possibilities of the gram sabhas passing resolutions against the Farm Bills, the government cancelled the meetings citing the pandemic. However, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies held meetings despite the ban much to the embarrassment of the government. NewsClick brings a roundup of the happenings in the state this week.
COVID-19: HIGHER CONCENTRATION OF CASES IN 40-69 AGE GROUPS
The total infections across the state stood at 6,08,885 till October 2, with 46,294 active cases. The number of casualties increased to 9,653, though the numbers have decreased over the past few weeks. The state now accounts for more deaths across the country along with Andhra Pradesh on higher concentration of cases and deaths in the age group of 40 and 69.
Though the government has claimed victory in containing the pandemic, its spread has remain unchecked in reality while the stagnation in numbers has raised suspicions over the credibility of the data.
The fresh cases in the week ending October 2 remained between 5,500 and 5,700, in line with the preceding weeks. The daily fresh cases in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) repeatedly breached the 1,000 mark, with the casualties increasing to 3,241.
The number of infections in the 0-12 years age group stands at 23,995 while 5,06,359 people have contracted the infection in the 13-60 age group. A total of 78,531 persons above the 60 years of age are infected.
AIADMK INFIGHTING CONTINUES
The infighting in the AIADMK is taking new turns every day. The Chief Minister and his deputy are vying for supremacy in the party and are aspiring to be the Chief Ministerial candidate.
Though the elections are almost seven months away, the urge for power seems to have forced the two leaders to run a race that is yet to begin. The announcement of the party secretariat on taking a call on Chief Ministerial candidate on October 7 has further widened the gap between the two factions. The party has instructed all the members of the Assembly to be available in Chennai on October 6.
Minister for Law C V Shanmugam accused OPS of having close ties with Sekhar Reddy, against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation has dropped charges recently for lack of evidence. Another minister Dindigul Srinivasan has thrown his weight behind EPS much to the embarrassment of the OPS camp.
The CM and his deputy are locking horns, with the latter staying away from the inauguration of the Solid Waste Management project in the GCC on September 30. The closed door meeting of the two leaders with their supporters are raising doubts over the future course of action of the two camps.
Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has geared up for the upcoming elections with the online membership campaign, though flawed. The party has gained an upper hand recently, given the infighting in the AIADMK and the recent anti-people, anti-farmer policies of the Union and state governments.
GOVERNMENT CANCELS GRAM SABHA MEET, OPPOSITION DEFIES
In a move to evade embarrassments, the state government late in the evening of October 1 cancelled the Gram Sabha meetings scheduled for October 2. The cancellation of the meetings was prompted by the call of DMK and the Secular Democratic Front (SDF) allies to pass resolutions against the Farm Bills in the gram sabhas.
The DMK and its allies held the ‘Peoples Sabha’ despite the ban in many villages and passed resolution against the bills.
The government after announcing more relaxations in the unlock phase, cited the COVID-19 situation as the reason for the cancellation of the meeting. The farmers’ organisations were the first to condemn the move of the government, followed by different political parties.
The Makkal Neethi Maiam led by actor Kamal Hassan also condemned the cancellation, as his party has been planning to reach out to the rural population through the meet.
GCC REAPPOINT WORKERS JOINING BMS
The GCC, desperate to dilute the united fight of the sanitation workers for fair wages, has resorted to colluding with the right wing Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). The corporation has begun to reappoint the workers who have joined the Sangh Parivar union after deserting the Chennai Corporation Red Flag Union. The union has been leading the protest for fair wages for the contractual sanitation workers since 2017.
The GCC dismissed 291 workers for participating in the two days protest from September 7 demanding wages. The GCC has now reappointed 87 of the workers who have joined the BMS. The workers were given appointments to meet the Commissioner along with the local leaders of the BMS to submit an apology letter for participating in the protest.
The GCC was paying Rs 379 as daily wage for the workers till the protest. The wage was revised to Rs 390 after the talks followed by the termination of contract workers and suspension of four permanent workers. However, the government order in 2017 mandates Rs 624 as the wage for the contract workers. Read More
DEMOLITION OF SLUM STAYED BY COURT
The dawn of September 27 was not so pleasant for the residents of the slum near Mandaveli in Chennai. While the poor have been involved in a battle for survival amid an economic and health crisis due to the pandemic, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) have demolished their houses too. Around 100 of the 300 families have lost their thatched houses and are left to fend themselves.
The Madras High Court, after a plea from a women’s rights organisation, stayed the further demolition of the houses till October 13, even though the organisations had requested the demolition to be stayed till the end of the current academic year, considering the students of the settlement. The State Human Rights Commission has also demanded a detailed report from the TNSCB on the demolition drive.
The demolition drive came without any prior notice, though the move to remove the houses was under discussion till March. The move was postponed after the pandemic raged across the city of Chennai. The local residents have accused the officials of not providing time to even pack their belongings.
WORKER DIES IN SAINT-GOBAIN FACTORY
A worker lost his life while on duty in the Saint-Gobain India Private Limited factory in Sriperumpudur in the outskirts of Chennai. Mugesh, a 21-year-old diploma holder from Cuddalore district, was working in the factory since the last three years. The trade unions allege that the workers are not provided enough training to handle sophisticated machinery.
The deceased worker was reportedly working as a trainee since his appointment and lost his life while working in the painting section. He was dragged into the machine after his hands got entangled in the roller and was pulled in. The worker succumbed to injuries in a private hospital.
The news comes at a time when the working class in the country are facing tough times with the amendments in labour laws which are taking away rights of the workers, including regulated working hours, retrenchment and many others. The corporates are exploiting the workers more based in huge relaxations in such laws, resulting in severe setbacks for the workers.
‘PERIYAR’ STATUE DESECRATED IN TIRUCHI
The statue of late rationalist ‘Periyar’ E V Ramaswamy was found desecrated in Tiruchi district. The assailants had poured saffron paint over the statue in the wee hours on September 27. The recent months have seen repeated incidents of such vandalism involving the members of Sangh parivar organisations including right wing fringe groups. The miscreants are yet to be arrested while a case has been filed.
The political parties including the AIADMK, DMK and Pattali Makkal Katchi condemned the cowardly act. Earlier on September 16, the DMK and Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres had replaced a damaged bust of the late leader with a 3 feet statue. The right wing outfits opposed the replacement following which a minor scuffle had ensued.
ORGANISATION RESOLVES TO FIGHT GREEN CORRIDOR PROJECT
A joint action committee of different farmers’ organisations and political parties have resolved to strengthen the struggle against the revival of the green corridor project connecting Chennai and Salem. The ‘Movement against Eight-Lane Expressway’ announced that all political parties would be approached for seeking support for the protest. The protest will be intensified in five districts namely Tiruvannamalai, Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Kancheepuram.
The 277 km long 8-lane road, estimated at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore, has been facing issues since the announcement of the project. The Madras High Court cancelled the project, which the Supreme Court refused to stay and ordered the government to return the acquired lands.
The AIADMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments are keen on implementing the project. The opposition parties and farmers’ organisations are opposing the project claiming that a large area of fertile lands and reserve forest will be destroyed if the project is implemented. Read More