Chennai: The decline in the number of COVID-19 infections in Chennai—attributed to the lockdown which has been lifted now—has not brought down the state tally by a huge margin. The number continues to climb in other parts of the state, particularly in the Southern districts. Three ministers of the state have contracted the infection so far.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths due to the boiler accident at the NLC India Limited plant has increased to 13 and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the company to pay Rs 5 crore as interim compensation.
In other news, the Tamil Nadu Association for Rights of All Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARADAC) held protests at 850 centres across the state demanding lockdown relief while the Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU) protested the decision to privatise certain routes. NewsClick brings a round-up of the developments this week from across the state.
COVID-19: NUMBER OF CASES CROSS 1,30,000
The state had recorded a total of 1,30,261 cases as on July 10, with 46,105 active cases. The state recorded fresh cases over 3,600 each day last week, with more than 4,000 cases in three days. The death toll increased to 1,829 with an addition of 444 casualties in the week.
The number of cases in the region under Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has, however, declined. The experts are warning not to be complacent with this slump. The city recorded a maximum single-day case count of 1,842 on July 4 and a minimum of 1,205 cases on July 10.
The infection in the Southern districts has seen a steady spike over the past two weeks. The number of cases in other districts stood at 17,309. Madurai has recorded 5,482 cases so far, next only to Chennai, Chengalpattu, and Thiruvallur. The high mortality in the district has also become a cause of concern.
Two more ministers, P Thangamani and Sellur K Raju, have contracted the infection. Earlier, the Higher Education Minister K P Anbazhagan had tested positive. Read More
NLC BOILER BLAST: DEATH TOLL INCREASED TO 13
The number of deaths following the boiler accident at the NLC India Limited plant in Neyveli has increased to 13. The blast in Unit V of the thermal power station-II claimed six lives on July 1. Seven more workers injured during the blast have later succumbed to their injuries. The trade union has accused the company of bypassing safety precautions leading to the blast, which is considered rare.
The NGT has ordered the NLC to pay an interim compensation of Rs 5 crore. The tribunal has also ordered it to pay Rs 30 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased. The employees admitted in the hospital with injuries should be paid Rs 5 lakh, while the discharged workers should be paid Rs 1 lakh, another order said.
DIFFERENTLY-ABLED PEOPLE PROTEST, DEMAND RELIEF
The members of the TARADAC held protests across the state demanding a cash relief of Rs 5,000 per month for all the differently-abled persons for the lockdown period. The protest was held at around 850 centres with the participation of more than 17,000 members and caregivers.
The organisation also demanded free ration and unemployment allowance for the differently-abled persons. The demand for an urban employment guarantee scheme was also raised. The protestors also insisted that the central government implement the commitments made under Section 24 of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities.
As 25 inmates of the Institute of Mental Health in Chennai tested positive for the COVID-19, the TARADAC insisted that the state government test all the inmates.
DREU PROTEST PRIVATISATION OF ROUTES
The DREU employees held a protest at the southern railway headquarters in Chennai against the decision to privatise more railway routes. The move is set to “discourage the general public from using the most preferred mass public transport system”. The DREU accused the government of vesting the power of fixing the cost of travel with the private players.
“The railway receives revenue of around Rs 32,000 crore from 6% of reserved passengers. The privatisation of such routes will end up in losses for the Indian Railways. The employment in the railways will also take a huge hit and will affect the youth,” said Janaki Raman, working president of DREU.
The government is indulging in anti-people and pro-corporate activities during the pandemic, alleged the leader.
CBI TO INVESTIGATE SATHANKULAM CUSTODIAL DEATHS
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the enquiry into the custodial deaths of the father-son duo in Sathankulam of Thoothukudi district. The death of Jayaraj and Benicks had roused uproar across the country as many stoop up and demanded measures to prevent police brutality.
The CBI has filed two first investigation reports in this case. Ten police personnel who were on duty in the station have been arrested so far. The allegation of caste bias displayed by the Sathankulam police has also come to the fore.
SANITATION WORKERS PROTEST POLICE ABUSE
The sanitation workers in the Neelangarai region organised a sit-in protest and boycotted work on July 9 citing police abuse. More than 500 workers joined the protest at the GCC zone 15 office. The police personnel were accused of harassing the workers while working as well as when they returned home from duty.
The workers were allegedly forced to work for a longer duration by the police and were later booked while returning home as ‘violators’ amid the lockdown. On July 8, a complaint by a permanent sanitation worker of the GCC against a constable attached to the Neelangarai station was not accepted initially. The complaint was later accepted, but no acknowledgment was issued leading to the protest by the workers. Even then, the police personnel reportedly threatened them for violating the COVID-19 lockdown norms.
The protest was withdrawn by noon after an assurance from the GCC officials and police personnel. Read More
DYFI LAUNCHES WEBSITE TO REGISTER JOB LOSSES
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) Tamil Nadu state committee has launched a website to record the mounting job losses and wage cuts during the lockdown. The unplanned lockdown and the disastrous handling of the economy by the Narendra Modi government has snatched jobs from several youths.
The testimonials on the website tell tragic stories of people coming from diverse backgrounds. Read More