Chennai: The number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu is rising with the state reporting 1,669 fresh cases on September 17 compared to 1,631 cases last Friday.
As state government is still not sure about reopening schools for junior students, a rise in the COVID-19 cases among senior students has become a matter of worry. Since September 1, when the schools reopened for classes 9 to 12 in, 117 students tested positive till September 15.
The health ministry is organising mega vaccination camps but the supply shortage from the Centre has affected the inoculation drive with the Greater Chennai Corporation setting up more than 1,000 special camps across Chennai.
However, a state-wide camp scheduled for September 17 was postponed for September 19 due to the shortage in supply of vaccines from the Centre. More than 50% of the eligible population in the state has received the first dose of the vaccines. State health minister Ma Subramanian had earlier requested Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya to provide an additional 10 million doses of vaccines.
STATE OPTS OUT OF NEET
The eventful 22-day-long Budget Session of the Tamil Nadu Assembly concluded this week with the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) managing to hog the limelight with its anti-Centre decisions while the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) failing to expose the DMK’s shortcomings. Read more
The Assembly passed a Bill seeking to opt out of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) on September 13 within days of three medical aspirants from the state who feared failing the test committing suicide last week.
On the last day of the Budget Session, the Assembly adopted the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, 2021.
The Bill seeks to provide admission to medical courses on the basis of class 12 examination marks and not via NEET. However, the Bill is awaiting the President’s assent. Two similar legislations from the former AIADMK regime were not approved.
The AIADMK supported the Bill while the Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs staged a walkout.
On the same day, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Repeal Bill was repealed. The repealing of the contract farming Act, which was enacted during the AIADMK regime based on a model Bill then pushed by the Centre, was opposed by the AIADMK.
WORKERS PROTEST IN THE INDUSTRIAL BELT
After US automobile giant Ford decided to shut down its factory in Chennai, its employees staged a demonstration against the company on September 14. The closure of the manufacturing plant will affect 4,000 workers, including 2,700 permanent employees, and the MSME sector catering to the needs of the plant. Read more
Employees of many other units in the industrial belt surrounding Chennai are also raising their voices against their management. Workers of PPG Asian Paints in Sriperumbudur, an industrial belt near Chennai, are protesting the illegal lay-off of seven permanent employees. According to the protesting workers, their colleagues were laid off for demanding revision of wages.
Workers of the US-owned Sanmina electronics factory in Oragadam, another manufacturing hub near Chennai, have been on strike since September 6 demanding a pay rise and recognition of their union. About 150 workers are currently occupying the factory.
CRACKS IN THE OPPOSITION
An alliance party of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Pattali Makkal Katchi, has split away before the upcoming rural local body elections, scheduled for October 6-9, weakening the prospects of the NDA.
Adding to the Opposition’s plight after an extensive raid on former AIADMK minister KC Veeramani’s properties, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption registered a case against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the FIR, as minister for commercial taxes and registration, Veeramani acquired assets worth 654% of his total income.
HUMAN CHAINS TO SAVE DEMOCRACY
More than 25 Left, youth, Dalit and human rights organisations formed human chains across Tamil Nadu on the International Day of Democracy on September 15 demanding the release of the 15 activists jailed under the UAPA, including Anand Teltumbde, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha.
CONSERVANCY WORKERS PROTEST LAY OFF
On September 13, hundreds of conservancy workers marched towards the Light House in Chennai demanding reinstatement of 2,006 workers who had been fired.
GCC conservancy workers on Marina Beach, Chennai. Image courtesy: Devi
Devi, one of the protesters, said, “Greater Chennai Corporation officials invited us for talks on Wednesday but said only 30 workers would be reinstated. Total 550 workers have lost jobs in Zone V alone. Is this fair? We are hoping for another round of talks,” Devi said.
TWO MEN DIE CLEANING SUMP
Two workers succumbed to asphyxiation after they entered a septic tank at a house in Chennai on September 12. Even though manual scavenging is banned in the country, the practice continues.