Civilians Struggle as Transport Unions call for Strike in Tamil Nadu

The public buses in Tamil Nadu refused to function on January 5, 2018, in the wake of an indefinite strike called by 12 transport unions across the state, as reported by NDTV. The strike was announced on the evening of January 4th after the demands of the state transport workers union regarding salary increment was turned down by Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar. A large number of commuters were left stranded at the bus stands as only a few buses plied in Chennai and other cities.

Reports from Times of India stated that the key demand of the transport workers was a hike in their wages, making it equivalent to the salary of the drivers in state government corporations. While the government was ready to boost the wages by 2.44%, the union insisted for 2.57% raise. The demands of the Labour Progressive Federation was supported by opposition party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) minister M. Shanmugam.

However, the workers associated with the ruling party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) refrained from joining the strike. Following the strike, A. Soundarrajan of Centre of Indian Trade Unions said that they would like to have further negotiations to solve the matter. Nonetheless, Vijayabaskar stated that the wage growth offered by the government is indisputable and advised the workers to return to their duties. He also added that the strike was a political agenda planted by the opposition party.

Tamil Nadu houses a navy of 22,500 buses with a workforce of 1.4 lakhs. The capital city, Chennai holds around 3,500 buses, as reported by Times of India. Thus the strike has put the citizens in a situation of inconvenience as 15,000 buses remained off the streets. This resulted in the unmanageable crowd in the Metro and suburban trains. Auto rickshaws took advantage of the situation and overcharged their passengers.

Sasikala’s lawyer to seek her transfer from Bengaluru prison to Chennai jail

On February 14, Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on disproportionate assets case and convicted Sasikala and her relatives J Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran. Now, jailed AIADMK general secretary, Sasikala’s lawyers are trying to seek her transfer from Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara jail to Chennai’s Puzhal Central Prison.

According to the procedures, Sasikala’s lawyers have to apply either to the superintendent of ParappanaAgrahara jail or approach the Karnataka law minister. “It is up to the consent of the two states. We will move the plea to Karnataka government Karnataka government which will in turn forward our request to the Tamil Nadu government,” said N D S Kulasekharan, Sasikala’s counsel.

Sasikala’s counsel said that they are considering to move to the Supreme Court with a review petition. Sasikala has to file a review petition within 30 days of the proclamation of her verdict.

B V Acharya, the special public prosecutor in the disproportionate assets case said, according to the jail guide, shifting a prisoner could be decided among the top officials of the two prisons. He also added, “However, Sasikala’s case is different. She has been imprisoned in the Karnataka jail as per the directions of the Supreme Court. According to me, she cannot be shifted without the SC’s permission. If they do so without informing the apex court, then it can be challenged.”

Sources – TOI, IndiaTv

Image source – NewsMinute


Cyclone Vardah hits Airtel, Vodafone services; internet slowed down

Mobile network operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, among other internet service providers have been hit by Cyclone Vardah bringing voice and data services to a halt. The undersea optic fibre cable network of Airtel was disrupted resulting in slow internet speed. The most powerful storm in two decades wrecked havoc in Chennai with winds blowing at 100kmph uprooting trees; lashed the districts of Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram with heavy rain and resulted in the death of four people.

According to the Economic Times, the world’s largest tower company, Indus Towers has deployed a team of 500 people and provided 60,000 litres of diesel to work in war footing to restore communications in the cyclone affected areas as complete power failure and damaged telecommunication infrastructure are lagging the efforts. The preparedness on part of telecom operators comes from lessons of last year flood-hit Chennai, when communications had come to a standstill.

In a tweet sent yesterday, the State Disaster Management Agency said “All telecom companies are told to restore their full network as quickly as possible and it is being monitored.”

As per the estimates of Industry body Assocham, Cyclone Vardah has caused destruction to industries in affected areas to the tune of $1 billion.

SOURCES:  News18, Economic Times


Cyclone Vardah touches ground in Chennai, Kills 4

Cyclone Vardah made landfall, meaning that it was directly overhead on the afternoon of Monday, December 12, killing four people and destroying countless homes. The severe tropical cyclone finally reached the coast of north Tamil Nadu, tearing through the city of Chennai and the coastal regions, disrupting land and air transport and causing a breakdown in the power supply.

With the velocity of the winds being reported at nearly 100 km/hr, reports of trees getting uprooted have been coming in. Consequently, the government has issued a red alert and deployed National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) teams as a precautionary measure. Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, have been put on standby to help evacuate people and provide aid if needed. More than 23,000 people in Tamil Nadu have been evacuated to relief centres. There are provisions for more  to be evacuated if needed, a senior state official, K. Satyagopal, told Reuters.

Cyclone Vardah had moved west over the Bay of Bengal before hitting Chennai , also affecting neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, which has also reported heavy rains. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) predicted that the cyclone would drench Chennai for a few more hours, before easing in intensity and moving away. Fishermen in Andhra have been warned to avoid the sea for the next 36 hours.

Schools and colleges had been kept shut in Chennai and neighbouring areas of Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur districts and coastal taluks of Villupuram district. As an additional precaution, trains had been cancelled and flights had suspended operations till 5 pm on Monday.

Sources: TOI, Indian Express, Reuters

Image Source: IMD

Governor applauds TN police for maintaining decorum post Jayalalithaa’s death

Chennai, December 8: Tamil Nadu police has been recently acknowledged by the governor C Vidyasagar Rao for handling the situation in Chennai prior and post Jayalalithaa’s tragic demise.

The governor has praised the force for working tirelessly to give a fitting farewell to the late Chief Minister by showcasing utmost professionalism during her last voyage, reported the Times of India.

In a statement, Rao said that the people of Tamil Nadu displayed their law-abiding culture and disciplined attitude to the entire nation.

He also declared on record his appreciation of officials and staff, and the entire government machinery, police officials and personnel for their unparalleled committed work during the hour of grief.

According to the Indian Express, the Governor also wrote a letter to the Tamil Nadu DGP T K Rajendran in which he mentioned that he is impressed with the way Tamil Nadu police in general and the Chennai city police in particular has handled the difficult situation of Jayalalithaa’s death that has brought grief to the entire state.

He also said that the iron lady had special love for the police department and the Tamil Nadu police has given a fitting farewell by showcasing utmost professionalism.

Sourced from The Times of India and The Indian Express


Income Tax Department raids 8 locations in Chennai

The Income Tax officers in Chennai have unearthed a huge money laundering racket. They have confiscated 120 Crore in old currencies, new currencies and gold bars. The raid was conducted on the houses of jewellers and sand miners in eight different locations.

According to The Indian Express, the IT department also questioned industrialist Sekhar Reddy, Srinivas Reddy and one of the agents Prem. Sekhar Reddy is a very well known personality amongst businessmen. He was involved in sand quarrying across the state and is also a member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Trust. The officials received a tip-off regarding Prem exchanging old currency notes for gold bars. Following his trail, they busted this money exchange racket. The money seized includes 80 Crores in old currencies, Rs.10 Crore in newly introduced Rs.2000 notes and 100 kg gold bars worth Rs.30 Crore.

Since the demonetization drive began, the Income Tax Department has been conducting regular raids. The Department said that till the December 6 it had seized jewellery and cash amounting to Rs130 Crore. Taxpayers had disclosed nearly Rs.2000 Crore of wealth.

Sources: TOI, Indian Express

Image source: India Today

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa passes away at age 68

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram or Amma, as she was fondly called, passed away in Chennai on December 5, 2016, at 11:30 pm. She suffered a massive cardiac arrest on December 4. The 68-year-old politician had been undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals since September 22, 2016. The information was confirmed by interim Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam who gave the news to the MLAs in a party meeting.

A team of cardiologists from AIIMS, New Delhi were flown in to treat her on December 4.

According to India Today, the hospital released a statement which said: “It in with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed honorable chief minister of Tamil Nadu Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11:30 PM today, 5-12-2016.”

The hospital kept the media up to date by tweeting about her health condition. However, rumors went around since the evening that Jayalalithaa had passed even though she did not thus cause panic among the citizens of Chennai. Despite the hospital having said that the Chief Minister was not dead, the party flag was said to have been flying half mast at the AIADMK Office through the majority of the day.

O Pannerselvam has taken oath as Tamil Nadu’s new Chief Minister.

Security has been beefed up throughout the entire city to prevent any violence by emotional party workers.

Many top officials have already visited the Hospital after the news of Jayalalithaa’s demise, including Advisor to the CM, Sheela Balakrishnan, Health Minister Vijayabaskar and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying Jayalalithaa’s death has caused a huge void in Indian politics.

Schools and colleges in Chennai have been declared closed for the next three days. 7-day state mourning is announced in Tamil Nadu from December 6.


Sources: Indian Express, Times of India, NDTV