There has been a slow and steady drop in COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu with the state recording less than 5,000 daily cases this week – 4,230 fresh cases and 97 deaths – on July 2.
However, there seems to be no relief in sight for the dire vaccine crisis in the state. With limited supplies from the Centre, it continues to be an erratic vaccination drive in Tamil Nadu.
No action was taken in three years since 13 peaceful anti-Sterlite protestors were gunned down by the police in Thoothukudi. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court observed that it was alarmed by the inaction.
While hearing on a litigation filed by BJP’s Tamil Nadu secretary K. Nagarajan, the Madras HC questioned the state government’s decision to set up a committee on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
The price of petrol crossed Rs 100 in certain districts this week with widespread demonstrations taking place across the state in opposition to the move.
COVID-19 VACCINE SHORTAGE: LONG QUEUES, FLASH PROTESTS
Less than five lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the state this week. TN had a stock of 2.07 lakh doses on Monday; 2.5 lakh doses were received on Wednesday and an additional 36,610 doses arrived on Thursday.
Many people who headed to vaccine centres early in the morning and stood in long queues were turned down due to vaccine shortage. Angry calls and spontaneous protests were reported from vaccine camps where people waited hopefully, but did not receive their jabs.
There have also been some allegations about vaccines being diverted to the black market.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government has further extended the COVID-19-induced lockdown in the state by a week, until July 12, with several relaxations in curbs across all districts.
ANTI-STERLITE PROTEST KILLINGS: COURT ALARMED AT INACTION
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court observed that it was alarming that three years after police personnel fired at unarmed anti-Sterlite protestors and killed 13 in May 2018 in Thoothukudi district, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to arrest or name anyone involved in the police action.
The court issued notice to the State Government and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on June 25 in a plea for disclosure of NHRC's "undisclosed" investigation report from 2018 into the killings. Read more
'COMMITTEE FOR NEET, MAYBE FUTILE' SAYS MADRAS HC
A PIL was filed in the HC by BJP’s Tamil Nadu secretary K. Nagarajan demanding that the state’s order constituting a committee to study the impact of NEET on socially backward students be quashed. During its hearing on June 29, the HC said the constitution of the committee might end up to be an exercise in futility,when the Supreme Court had insisted upon medical admissions based on NEET alone.
Advocate-General R. Shanmugasundaram has requested time to file a counter affidavit.
Former Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami accused the ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) of making false promises that the exam would be cancelled if the party was elected to power.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, however, had said the government was "confident of securing exemption for Tamil Nadu from NEET” in the state assembly last week.
CASTE DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS AT IIT MADRAS
Vipin Pudiyath Veetil, an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras, resigned from his job alleging caste discrimination since he joined in 2019.
“The discrimination came from individuals in positions of power irrespective of their claimed political affiliations and gender,” read the mail he sent to faculty members which was widely circulated on social media.
A few days before his resignation, the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes (NCSC) sent a notice to IIT-Madras after a complaint was filed by an activist stating that reservation policies were not followed in faculty recruitment the previous year.
THREE-DAY PROTEST AGAINST PETROL PRICE HIKE
Protest in a south Chennai neighbourhood
Condemning the skyrocketing prices of petroleum products and urging the Union Government to provide a Rs 7,500 monetary assistance to poor families for six months, four political parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, held protest demonstrations over three days – from June 28 to June 30 – across the state.
The protestors also demanded permission for the Tamil Nadu government to manufacture vaccines at the HLL Biotech plant in Chengalpattu.
Rental cab drivers also resorted to a sudden protest at Anna Salai in Chennai on July 2 demanding that they be provided higher tariffs by the cab aggregators in accordance with fuel prices.
STEEL PLANT WORKERS DEMAND PAY HIKE
Workers of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) said that the company management has delayed long-overdue salary hikes for close to four and a half years now. Condemning the delay, workers of all SAIL plants in Tamil Nadu went on a day-long strike on June 30.
Workers protesting at SAIL plant in Salem
50 LAKH AADHAR DETAILS HACKED FROM GOVT
Tamil Nadu’s public distribution system data has been breached and data, including Aadhaar card numbers, addresses and mobile numbers belonging to over 50 lakh consumers have been lifted from the server. Bengaluru-based cyber security startup Technisanct identified and reported the cyber attack on tnpds.gov.in. The website was still "under maintenance" at the time this was being written.