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TN this Week: COVID-19 Cases Approaching 2.5 Lakh, Opposition EIA and NEP Mounts

The possibility of enforcing reservation in other states increased with a judgement of the Madras High Court this week.
Tamil Nadu  this week

The state has reported 2,45,859 COVID-19 cases so far, with more cases emerging from the southern districts. Political parties, environmental activists and academics have registered their opposition to the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2020 and the National Education Policy (NEP). In an important judgement, the Madras High Court ordered the formation of a panel to implement reservation for OBC students in UG/PG medical admissions in colleges run by the state government.

COVID-19: Close to 2.5 Lakh Cases

The number of COVID-19 cases continue rising in the state, with the total number at 2,45,859. The number of those discharged also increased, leaving active cases at 57,968. At 3,935 people, the death toll also increased. Even though the growth rate of the virus has declined in Chennai, the increase of cases in many districts continues. The government is still in denial of community spread. The state has extended the lockdown till August 31, with a total lockdown on all Sundays.

In Tamil Nadu, COVID-19 patients with comorbidities are at a high risk of contracting the infection and face hospitalisation with ventilator support. About 81.8% of patients who had succumbed to the infection so far had comorbidities, including hypertension and diabetes. Deaths only due to the COVID-19 infection in the state is 18.2%.

The governor of the state is in self-isolation as the number of Raj Bhavan staff members that have contracted the infection at 87. Around 33 government staff working at the front-line against the pandemic have succumbed to the infection, including 11 casualties from the Greater Chennai Corporation and eight from the police department. Read More

EIA Draft Notification Opposed

The draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2020 has no takers in the state. Most political parties and environmental activists have condemned the dilution of the existing laws. The State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority raised objections to the draft, reports said.

A clause permitting only the government and project proponents to flag violations has become an important talking point. The state could be at the receiving end if the notification comes into force, said environmental activists. The Tamil Nadu Science Forum alleged that the policy was industry friendly and in violation of the 2006 notification.

Opposition Demands Withdrawal of NEP

The education minister announced that the decision to implement the NEP would be carried out after consultation. Opposition parties have demanded the withdrawal of the NEP, saying that such policies breach the rights of the states.

Political parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) accused the policy of being a threat to pluralism and federalism. The DMK leader M.K. Stalin said the policy would snatch away social justice and decried the imposition of Hindi and Sanskrit in a state which has proved that the two language formula can be successful.

The CPI(M) accused the Union Government of bypassing parliamentary democracy, alleging that the policy would exclude socially and economically backward populations. The Pattali Makkal Katchi, an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has also opposed the three language policy, but welcomed certain aspects of the NEP. Read More

Form Panel for OBC Quota in Medical Admissions’

The Madras High Court has directed the Union Government to form a panel for ensuring reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) for All India quota (AIQ) in state surrendered seats. The court ordered the formation of a panel comprising state authorities and representatives of the Medical Council of India.

The court also noted that there are no legal hurdles to implement the reservation for UG and PG medical admissions, until any further orders from the Supreme Court. All the political parties in the state except the BJP, approached the court demanding reservation in AIQ in the state-run medical colleges.

The possibility of enforcing the reservation in other states has also increased with the judgement of the Madras High Court.

Complaint Against ABVP President Withdrawn

A woman has reportedly been forced to withdraw her complaint against the national president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Dr. Subbiah Shanmugam. The woman filed a complaint against the ABVP leader for urinating at her doorstep, after a dispute over car parking in the apartment complex.

CCTV footage of him urinating in front of the woman’s house was leaked, leading to a furore on social media. His conversation with a neighbour, requesting for a compromise in the issue, was also leaked.

The ABVP leader is a professor and the head of surgical Oncology at Kilpauk Medical College and Government Royapettah Hospital.

Editor of News18 Resigns

After a smear campaign by right-wing youtuber Maridhas, N. Gunasekaran, the Editor of News 18 Tamil Nadu, resigned. He was reportedly stripped of his powers after a series of videos by the youtuber alleged that he was a proponent of Dravidian ideologies and was targeting the BJP’s policies.

The issue had been brewing after multiple allegations by the youtuber in a series of videos. The Madras High Court ordered the removal of all the videos after the Editor and management of TV18 group approached the court.

Earlier, the bureau chief of the channel, Haseef Mohamed, was forced to resign after he was wrongfully associated with a YouTube channel called ‘Karuppar Kootam’. The functionaries of the channel were arrested and have been detained under the Goondas Act after complaints by right-wing groups. Read More

Nurses Protest, Demand Permanent Jobs

Close to 50 nurses protested in front of the Director of Medical Services’ (DMS) office, demanding assurance on permanent employment. The nurses had been informed that they continue to remain on contract and are not permanent appointments. They had allegedly not been paid their wages since April, and were not issued appointment orders.

The government deputed 52 nurses, who were on contract in other parts of the state, to Chennai in April to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. They were promised permanent appointments by the government as they had cleared their medical board examinations. The nurses have vowed to continue their protest till they are offered permanent jobs.

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