Amid the rising COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, the state witnessed various protests against the privatisation of railway routes and online exams for college students. A series of protests erupted across the state against the smearing of the Periyar statue by right wing outfits. NewsClick brings a round up of the happenings across the state this week.
COVID-19: SOUTHERN DISTRICT PILE UP CASES
The state continues to register over 4,000 cases for six consecutive days, taking the total number of positive cases to 1,60,907. The number of discharges are on the rise, so are the casualties. July 17 recorded 79 deaths, the highest so far on a single day in the state. The number of active cases are 47,782.
The number of cases in Chennai continued to dip, with the number remaining below 1,300 for the last 11 consecutive days. The recovery rate has increased to 80% in the city, with 67,077 discharges and 14,923 active cases. The city accounts for 1,376 casualties with 1.65% mortality rate.
The southern districts including Madurai continued to report more cases. The MP from this area has accused the government of under reporting the number of deaths in the district, based on the details available in the crematoriums. Other districts including Virudhu Nagar, Thoothukudi, Theni, Dindigul, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli recorded more than 100 cases. Only four districts registered single digit cases on July 17. Read More
WOMEN'S FEDERATION BEGIN ONLINE CAMPAIGN
The All Women Federation in the state has initiated a four week online campaign with a number of demands from July 16. The campaign is aimed at exposing the various issues faced by the women during the lockdown time. The first week campaign is against the increasing violence on women and children.
The other campaigns in the subsequent weeks include, the demand for quality rations till the pandemic ends, opposing the harassment of microfinance companies and demand to release political prisoners and to stop all political arrests.
The federation is a confederation of around 40 women’s organisations in the state including the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW).
PERIYAR STATUES VANDALISED
The statue of social reformist E V Ramasamy ‘Periyar’ continues to be a target of the right wing forces. A statue of Periyar was smeared with saffron paint in Coimbatore. Arun Krishnan, an activist of Bharat Sena, a right wing outfit has been arrested for indulging in the act. The organisation has distanced itself from the act and claimed that the accused have carried out the act without their knowledge.
In another incident, a Periyar statue in Kallakurichi district was wrapped with chappals by unidentified miscreants.
The incidents took place after an YouTube channel, Karuppar Kootam published videos criticising the Kandha Shashti Kavasam, a Hindu devotional song of Lord Muruga. The host of the channel Surendra Natarajan has reportedly surrendered.
Political parties excluding the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Bharatiya Janata Party held protests and condemned the act of disrespecting the statue of the late social reformer.
STUDENTS OPPOSE ONLINE EXAMS
The proposal to conduct online examinations for the final semester students, following the latest UGC circular, has faced stiff opposition in the state. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) has condemned the blanket order on the proposal and termed it as unviable considering the lack of internet penetration in rural areas.
The Anna University has reportedly started making arrangements for the conduct of final year exams in the online mode. In a message sent to the students, the faculty members have asked the students to inform about the availability of internet as per the instructions of the Registrar.
The political parties in the state have been demanding the cancellation of exams and the Chief Minister has sought freedom for states on the conduct of final semester exams.
RAILWAY EMPLOYEES AGAINST PRIVATISATION MOVE
The railway employees held protests condemning the move to privatise railway routes in the state. The Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU) held protests in major railway stations across the state against the move of the Union government.
The move would end up in 14 routes being handed over to private players, of which nine are daily trains and four are weekly trains. The move may bring to an end of affordable travel to a large section of the public.
The various concessions could be done away with, while reservation in jobs could also come to an end, warned the leaders of DREU. The move to privatise several routes could end up in complete privatisation of the railways itself, they warned.
NO DENOTIFICATION WITHOUT WILDLIFE BOARD APPROVAL
The Government of Tamil Nadu has assured the Madras High Court that part of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary won't be denotified without the wildlife board approval. The court also disposed of the Public Interest Litigation challenging the denotification of a part of the sanctuary.
The move to denotify the part of the sanctuary has been ridiculed by environmentalists and local residents to be in favour of industrialisation. The state government and Forest Department continued to claim that the move was only to declassify the areas as core, buffer and eco sensitive zones. Read More
108 AMBULANCE WORKERS HOLD PROTEST
The workers of the 108 ambulance service held protests demanding a safe working environment and encashment of leaves. The drivers of the ambulance and emergency medical technicians participated in the protest.
The frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic are facing risks of contracting the infection while transporting the positive patients. The plight of the health workers are largely unattended to, while only words of praise continue to pour in.
The workers demanded to revoke the suspension of six workers in Karur district without any enquiry. These services are under public-private partnership operated by GVK-EMRI.