The state witnessed several protests and demonstrations this week. The overworked village health nurses (VHN) appealed for proper work hours and leaves. Sanitation workers in different districts demanded safe and secure jobs.
The fishing community in Pulicat protested against the construction of the private port at the lake on September 19 when Union Fisheries Minister L Murugan visited the area.
The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies also held protests. They opposed the many anti-people measures of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government.
In a big move, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin announced that the state will bear the tuition and hostel fees for government school students who get into engineering colleges through the 7.5 per cent quota.
Heavy rain lashed the Western districts this week inundating several residential areas. The Meteorological Department has forecast more rain and thunderstorms, particularly in 10 districts, over the next two days.
Many scattered instances of violence, especially against women, are being reported from time to time in the state. This week, a 19-year-old college student was stabbed to death by a youth in a railway station in South Chennai.
On September 23, the nomination process for the rural local body elections for nine districts ended, and the districts are set to go to polls on October 6 and 9. All the political parties in the state and its leaders are focusing on it at the moment.
STATE GEARS UP FOR LOCAL BODY POLLS
The Congress party expressed disappointment with seat sharing in the Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) for the upcoming local body polls, but the DMK-led alliance is intact. The National Democratic Alliance is, however, reduced to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and BJP after Pattali Makkal Katchi withdrew to contest alone.
Some other parties in the fray are Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam, Seeman’s Naam Tamilar, Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, and TTV Dinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.
In a blatantly casteist move, caste Hindu families in a village in Tenkasi have decided to boycott the local body polls because the polling station has been shifted to an SC-community locality. They are demanding that the polling booth be relocated, and the EC is holding talks with the community leaders.
Revealing the close ties between money and elections in Tamil Nadu, some instances of auctioning of posts of panchayat presidents were reported from Kallakurichi and Villupuram districts.
COVID-19: CASES GO UP
Tamil Nadu saw an upward trajectory of daily COVID-19 Infections this week. The state logged 27 deaths and 1,733 fresh cases on September 24, compared to the 1,600-odd cases throughout last week.
The state health secretary reported that around 400-odd students had tested positive for COVID-19 since schools reopened for higher classes on September 1.
The state is holding the third mega vaccination camp on September 26 with a target of administering 15 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 20,000 booths across the state.
Given the shortage of vaccines, the state health minister once again urged the Centre to consider exporting COVID-19 vaccines only after fully vaccinating all eligible individuals in the country.
Tamil Nadu has also recorded 2,733 cases of dengue since the start of the year, compared to 2,410 cases last year. There has also been a three-fold rise in the number of tests performed for diagnosis.
NEET STUDY REVEALS DISPARITIES
The Committee set up by the state government in June 2021 to study the impact of NEET on admissions to medical courses in Tamil Nadu released its findings this week. The 165-page report found that the test is stacked against the students from rural areas, poor economic backgrounds and those educated in the government Tamil-medium schools. Read more
Under the leadership of Dravidar Kazhagam, like-minded parties met on September 21 to discuss the matter. They have decided to hold programmes in major cities in Tamil Nadu to explain why NEET should not be held. Additionally, Thol Thirumavalavan said that the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) will hold protests across the state against the NEET.
Meanwhile, another NEET aspirant’s drastic step was reported. A 19-year-old boy from Coimbatore left his home fearing failure in NEET, was traced and rescued by police from a train bound to Chennai on September 23.
STATE-WIDE PROTESTS BY DMK AND ALLIES OPPOSING CENTRE'S POLICIES
The SPA parties staged a statewide protest on September 20 opposing the ‘anti-people’ policies of the Union government.
Condemning the continuous rise in fuel prices, the Pegasus spyware scam and the three contentious farm laws, cadres of Congress, DMK, Communist parties and VCK staged demonstrations at various public places holding black flags.
SANITATION WORKERS PUT FORTH DEMANDS
A group of conservancy workers from Ambattur zone of the Greater Chennai Corporation staged a protest at the zonal office on September 20, alleging lack of safety measures and increased workload.
On the same day contract sanitation workers of Palani town in Dindigul district held a protest in front of the commissioner office with many demands such as job security and proper payment towards the provident fund.
The Tamil Nadu panchayat secretaries association has demanded that the state government hike the wages for sanitary workers, overhead tank operators and health coordinators in village panchayats.
VILLAGE HEALTH NURSES SEEK EIGHT-HOUR DUTY
Village Health Nurses (VHN) made a mass representation to the Health Department in Chennai on September 14 seeking eight-hour duty per day.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly after the introduction of vaccination, they have been working on Sundays and government holidays as well.
They urged the government to plan COVID-19 vaccination in a way that it does not affect their routine maternal and child healthcare services.
FORD EMPLOYEES WANT THEIR JOBS
The sudden announcement of closure of the Ford plant in Chennai came as a shock two weeks ago, though the workers were quick to act and demanded that the state government intervene.
The workers have held two rounds of talks with the plant heads and the human resources team; however, the company is hell bent on stopping the manufacturing. The Chennai Ford Employees Union (CFEU) is asking the company for a job guarantee, but Ford India has only said “we are committed to taking care of our customers and working closely with employees, unions, dealers and suppliers to care for those affected by the restructuring”.
'DON'T EVICT US, PROVIDE PATTAS'
On September 22, residents of Bethel Nagar in the Injambakkam neighbourhood in South Chennai held a large demonstration urging the government not to evict them, and instead provide them with house site pattas.
Bethel Nagar residents demand house-site pattas.
They demanded that in the ongoing court case, the Tamil Nadu government should stand by the people's right to life and not evict the 10,000 residents.