Unexpected heavy rains in Chennai and its neighbouring districts led to severe waterlogging and several hours of traffic congestion on December 30, and three people died in rain-related electrocutions.
COVID-19 cases drastically shot up this week; the state reported 890 new cases on December 30, which is an increase from 739 cases the day before and 607 cases a week ago.
On the political front, state Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan said that the total pending dues for the state government from the Centre is more than Rs 40,000 crore. In the pre-budget meeting on December 30 with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he urged the Union government to pay the dues at the earliest.
The former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) minister KT Rajendra Bhalaji is still on the run after being booked in a financial fraud case and getting denied anticipatory bail. Read more
Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) launched a state-wide membership drive with Chief Minister MK Stalin going door to door in his constituency Kolathur in Chennai on December 29.
Tamil Nadu ranked second in Niti Aayog’s overall health performance, while Kerala emerged as the best performer for the fourth consecutive year, and Uttar Pradesh is in the last position.
The Union Education Ministry’s ranking for the most innovative educational institute was given to the Indian Institute of Technology Madras for the third consecutive year.
NewsClick brings you a roundup of the happenings this week.
RAIN SHAKES THE CITY
Heavy rains hammered Chennai and its suburbs, inundating roads and subways and causing massive traffic jams in main locations for several hours. Up to 20 cms of rain flooded the capital city as cyclonic circulation along the coasts triggered heavy rainfall on December 30.
A red alert was issued for four districts - Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur, and Chingleput - for the next 48 hours, which signals extremely heavy rainfall.
COVID-19 CASES SPIKE
Of the 890 fresh COVID-19 cases reported on December 30, Chennai alone reported 397 cases. At the same time, the state has overall recorded 46 Omicron cases.
In the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant and increase in overall COVID-19 infections, Tamil Nadu director general of police (DGP) C Sylendra Babu issued an advisory on December 29, banning New Year celebrations on beaches and other public places, and people are advised to stay indoors.
At the end of the 16th mega vaccination camp on December 26, 85.71% of Tamil Nadu’s population received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 57.85% received the second dose.
UNORGANISED SECTOR OPPOSES LABOUR CODE
Image courtesy: TN Labour
Opposing the Centre’s decision to scrap 44 labour laws and codify them under four laws, several unorganised sector labour unions marked their protest in Little Mount, Chennai, on December 28. The federation of unorganised sector unions demanded that state laws favouring manual workers and their respective welfare boards be safeguarded.
STATE RAISES DEARNESS ALLOWANCE
Ahead of the Pongal festival, Chief Minister MK Stalin on December 28 announced the increased the dearness allowance for state government employees and pensioners from 17% to 31%, with effect from January 1.
This was a long-pending demand of the government employees, and it was expected to be met during the 2021-22 state budget. The announcement means an additional expenditure of ₹8,724 crores a year for the state.
GOVT TENEMENT COLLAPSED
A portion of a government tenement in Chennai’s outskirts in Thiruvottiyur collapsed on December 27. However, no injuries were reported because residents were evacuated on December 26 after several cracks had developed. The building housed around 24 residential units.
GOVT INTERVENES IN FOXCONN
After workers of the Foxconn electronic company in Sriperumbudur suspended work protesting food poisoning and substandard living conditions, a meeting was held between state government officials and the management on December 26. Government representatives asked the Foxconn management to provide quality food and facilities to the 15,000 employees.
Later in the week, on December 29, Apple Inc. placed iPhone assembler Foxconn’s facility “on probation” after both companies found that the workers’ dormitory accommodations and dining rooms did not meet the required standards. Read more
TRICHY SAND BULLOCK-CART WORKERS PROTEST
Image courtesy: CITU Tamil Nadu
Under the leadership of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), bullock-cart workers held protests in Trichy and Tanjore districts on December 29, demanding the reopening of sand quarries. Hundreds of families in these districts are dependent on transporting sand for construction purposes using bullock-carts, but lorr.