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TN This Week: Shortage of Vaccine, Black Fungus Drug; Workers in Lockdown-hit Sectors Demand Relief

Workers from different sectors took to the streets to demand COVID-19 relief for their loss of livelihood in the past few weeks.
Workers from different sectors took to the streets to demand COVID-19 relief for their loss of livelihood in the past few weeks.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu dropped below the 2 lakh-mark this week after nearly a month. At present, there are 1,74,802 patients undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in the state.

The daily new cases and death count have further reduced. On June 11 the state reported 15,759 fresh cases and 378 deaths.

However, the Tamil Nadu government has extended the lockdown in the state by a week till June 21 with eased restrictions.

In the 11 districts identified as COVID-19 hotspots, a separate set of relaxations are in place, predominantly in Western Tami Nadu. Read more

Workers from many sectors took to the streets to demand COVID-19 relief for their loss of livelihood in the past few weeks. They also demand proper compensation for the families of the deceased.


Due to the low supply of COVID-19 vaccines from the Centre, Tamil Nadu has run out of stock and vaccination has been very low this week. On June 11, the state received 3.65 lakh doses of Covishield, which would be distributed to districts over the next few days. The state has overall inoculated only 9% of its seven-crore population with the first dose of the vaccine, and it is among the bottom five states in the country in terms of vaccination. Read more

As of June 9, Tamil Nadu reported 1,196 cases of mucormycosis or black fungus in 25 districts. Chennai has the most number of cases, with 420 patients. The state is running short of Liposomal Amphotericin-B drug to treat the fungal disease. The Centre allocated 7,330 vials to the state, but Chief Minister MK Stalin had earlier asked for 30,000 vials.

Meanwhile, as of June 9, district child protection units had identified about 1,400 children in Tamil Nadu who were either orphaned or had lost one parent to COVID-19 since last year, with 50 coming under the first category.


EB workers protest demanding compensation for the deceased.

EB workers protest demanding compensation for the deceased.

In the Tirunelveli electricity distribution region -- covering Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi and Virudhunagar districts -- 26 electricity board (EB) workers died from COVID-19 till June 4 in the ongoing wave. A total of 11 trade unions have accused the officers of the EB of negligence leading to the deaths.

Due to delayed orders from the top, the Tirunelveli region worked with 100% EB employees during the COVID-19 peak--the two-week period of intense lockdown between May 24 and June 7. The unions earlier demanded that at least the previous guidelines of 80% workers should be in place, but it was not accepted.

Condemning the carelessness of officers and demanding Rs 25 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased, electricity workers held a protest outside the regional office.


On June 10, under the leadership of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), beedi workers in different parts of the state held protests demanding Covid-19 relief of Rs 7,500. They also demanded implementation of the new wage hike agreement, and emphasised on the need for scholarships for children of beedi labourers.

Beedi workers protest at Melappalayam, Tirunelveli

Beedi workers protest at Melappalayam, Tirunelveli

 Auto rickshaw drivers also held a state-wide protest on June 10 demanding cash relief of Rs 7,500, and an extension till December on loans, insurance and licence renewals. Read more

Fireworks manufacturers and workers in Virudunagar district are also badly affected by the lockdown. They have urged the district administration to permit reopening of fireworks units. Around 8 lakh workers are dependent on the industry for their livelihood.


Sanitation workers protest

Sanitation workers protest

Sanitation workers, led by the CITU, held a demonstration outside the Tirunelveli District Collectorate office on June 11 demanding minimum wages of Rs 634 per day. This is the wage prescribed by the Tamil Nadu government.

More than 50 workers participated in the protest and a memorandum of the demand was submitted to the Collectorate office. CITU district secretary Mohan, president Varagunan and vice president Sudalairaj participated in the protest.


Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote to 12 Chief Ministers on June 8 calling upon them to press the Centre for a moratorium on loan repayment for MSMEs and small businesses impacted by the second wave of COVID-19.

In letters to his counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal, CM Stalin pointed out that the absence of such relief measures would force many businesses to close, and this would lead to widespread economic distress.


The digitisation of papers regarding properties and assets owned by thousands of temples across the state commenced last month in line with the poll promise made by the DMK. In the first phase, particulars of the lands to the extent of 3.43 lakh acres have been published on the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) website this week.

Notably the BJP, RSS and Isha Foundation leader Jaggi Vasudev ran the #FreeTNTemples campaign earlier this year alleging misappropriation and neglect of state-run temples.

Minister of HR & CE, PK Sekar also assured the appointment of around 200 eligible non-Brahmin priests in the temples of Tamil Nadu within the first 100 days of the DMK government. He also said that the state government would take efforts to ensure that prayers in the temples under his department would be offered in Tamil.


After O Panneerselvam refused to accept the deputy leader post, the AIADMK is gearing up for another round of talks. In the meeting to be held on June 14, the party is expected to elect office-bearers, deputy leader of opposition, a whip, secretary and treasurer of the legislature party.

The meeting assumes significance as it takes place amidst the release of audio recordings of VK Sasikala interacting with AIADMK functionaries assuring them that she would be returning to politics very soon.

Meanwhile, a poster war erupted between supporters of AIADMK leaders Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami in Tirunelveli district. On June 10, in response to the posters in support of OPS, supporters of EPS also put up posters hailing his election as the Leader of the Opposition.

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