The state Assembly met for its first sitting for the year with the Opposition repeatedly walking out condemning the government stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) while protests are continuing across the state. The deputy chief minister announced a massive evacuation drive to remove residents from the banks of Cooum and Adayar rivers, raising severe apprehensions among the residents. The state government in a surprise move approached the Supreme Court against National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical admissions. In Vizhuppuram district, the farmers are struggling to sell their paddy, as the government-run procurement centre has severe staff shortage. NewsClick presents a round-up of this week’s happenings across Tamil Nadu.
GENERAL STRIKE: THOUSANDS DETAINED
The general strike called on January 8 by the central trade unions saw thousands of workers, farmers and students hitting the roads against the economic and anti-worker policies of the Narendra Modi government. The banking, insurance, port and petroleum sectors saw complete shut down while workers of textiles and weaving industries in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts participated in large numbers.
The members of the trade unions, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), student and youth organisations were detained for holding road and rail rokos across the state. The protesters accused the Modi government of favouring the corporates by selling the public sector undertakings. The charter of demands included the fixation of minimum wages for workers and protection of the labour laws which were won after decades of workers struggle.
The AIKS and AIAWU resorted to a rural strike demanding minimum support price for agricultural produces and implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act with revised higher wages. The students boycotted classes condemning the alleged reduction of funds for public education and the youth organisations demanded creation of permanent and sustained employment. Read More
ASSEMBLY SESSION CONCLUDES
The Tamil Nadu Assembly session began its first session for the year on Monday with the customary Governor address. The Opposition parties boycotted the address condemning the support of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) to the CAA in Parliament.
The leader of the Opposition, M K Stalin, of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), submitted a notice requesting a resolution against CAA in the Assembly, which was not taken up for discussion. The walk- out continued throughout the four-day session, as the Speaker of the house had denied permission to discuss the resolution. The member of the House, Thamin Ansari, on the first day of the session sported a T-shirt bearing “No CAA, NRC, NPR”.
The deputy chief minister informed the House about the evacuation drive in the banks of the Cooum and Adayar rivers. The move could displace thousands of families when the public examinations for the high and higher secondary students are fast approaching. The families reportedly residing in the area for more than half a century accused few corporate hotels and other buildings enjoying the patronage of the government. The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has been constructing buildings for the evacuated families far away from their current dwelling place affecting their jobs and education.
PROTESTS CONTINUE AGAINST CAA
Protests against the CAA continues across the state with Valluvar Kottam in Chennai becoming the venue for daily protest. A number of civil society, political and student organisations continue their protest here. The police detained the protesters on Friday evening leading to a minor scuffle. After intervention from the general public, the police were forced to release the detained protesters.
The student community is continuing their protest against CAA and the attack on the students of JNU. The Students Federation of India and other student organisations had called for boycott of classes and protest demonstrations. The students of various colleges in Nagapattinam, Kanyakumari and Coimbatore district held protests opposing the CAA and demanded action against the Right Wing group which attacked the students and faculty of the JNU. Read more.
GOVT MOVES SUPREME COURT ON NEET
The state government moved the Supreme Court to pronounce the NEET as unconstitutional on January 4, while the last day for registration was on January 6. The government has claimed that the NEET affects the interest of the rural students. The state has high number of students from the rural areas pursuing their education in the state syllabus.
The NEET exams are conducted based on the syllabus followed by the CBSE. The academicians have continuously accused the absence of level playing field for the rural students resulting in mass exclusion from medical education. The outrage was huge in the state when NEET was made mandatory for admissions to medical and dental courses. The implementation saw several suicides by students who aspired to get medical admissions.
The opposition DMK accused the AIADMK government of staging a drama with the writ petition at the last moment after staying silent for a long time. The writ petition, however, is expected not to earn the desired result for the aspirants.
PROCUREMENT DELAY PUTS FARMERS IN AGONY
The farmers of Vizhuppuram and neighbouring districts are being made to wait for several days for their paddy produce to be procured. The procurement centre in Gingee, run by the state government, lacks necessary staff strength and basic amenities resulting in the undue delay in completing the procurement process. A large number of farmers, including women, continued their wait since last Sunday for their produce to be procured.
The farmers had a reasonably high yield as these parts of the state witnessed high rainfall in the just concluded monsoon. The quality of the paddy, however, was affected of the continuous rain resulting in the reduction of the prices. The revenue from selling the yield will help them celebrate the harvest festival of Pongal next week and prepare themselves for the next season. The lower MSP fixed by the union government and the state government’s announcement of a relatively small incentive, have increased the agony of the farmers. Read More