Pinarayi Vijayan visits Jayalalithaa
THE chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan and governor, P Sathasivam, visited Apollo Hospitals, Chennai on October10 where Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa is undergoing treatment.
Vijayan visited the hospital and held discussions with hospital managing director Prathap Reddy.
Pinarayi Vijayan said they had come to “convey the collective good wishes of the people of Kerala.” He was accompanied by CPI(M) Central Committee member T K Rangarajan, MP.
Earlier, G Ramakrishnan, state secretary visited the hospital and enquired about the health condition of the Tamil Nadu chief minister.
Thoothukudi Port Employees to go on strike
EMPLOYEES and trade unions of the VOC Port have expressed strong opposition to the transfer of Rs 400 crore fund from the Thoothukudi facility to the newly proposed Enayam port.
The central government has recently cleared a proposal for a major port at Enayam at Kanyakumari district, bordering Kerala and had allotted Rs 6,575 crore in the first phase from the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) fund. Of the allocation in the first phase, Rs 3,185 crore was sanctioned for constructing breakwater. For this purpose, Rs 1,000 crore had been diverted from three other major ports in India to the tune of Rs 400 crores each from Thoothukudi and Ennore ports and the remaining Rs 200 crores from Chennai port.
The transfer of fund to the newly proposed Enayam port has come under severe criticism and was opposed by trade unions and employees of Thoothukudi port.
R Rusel, state secretary, CITU, said that already there was shortage of Rs 450 crore with regard to pension and PF funds. Apart from that, various developmental works such as dredging, procurement of new equipment, new boats and infrastructural works were pending for more than two years owing to lack of funds and under such circumstances, if Rs 400 crore was diverted to Enayam facility the development of Thoothukudi port will take a heavy toll, he said. It is said that the centre has given oral instructions to stop the Thoothukudi outer harbour project which had been going on for two years for which Rs 7,500 crore had been allotted in the first phase. All the work and the amount spent on the outer harbour project would now go waste, he said and added that all this was being done for the benefit of minister of state for shipping, Radhakrishnan, as the Enayam port falls under his constituency.
If Enayam project had to be executed, it should be done with special fund allotted by central government and the sum should not come at the cost of the development of other major ports, opined Rusel.
In this background, all trade unions of the port started protests unitedly. On September 23, there was a huge demonstration of employees of all trade unions of the port held. They planned to start an indefinite strike regarding the issue.
‘Divesting in Salem Steel Plant will Hit progress’
Regular employees and contract workers of the Salem Steel Plant (SSP) launched a ‘stay-in strike’ from the first shift on September 23 morning to protest against the nod given by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for the strategic sale of the SSP.
The strategic sale is aimed at reducing government ownership in the Salem Steel Plant to below 51 percent, and thus allowing a private player to have a major share.
The employees affiliated to CITU, INTUC, LPF, and the Salem Steel Plant SC and ST Officers and Employees Welfare Association staged a demonstration in front of the main gate of the SSP in the morning.
Later, the trade union leaders met Vishnudeo Sai, minister of state for steel and mines, who visited the SSP en route to Kerala, and handed over to him a petition to drop the proposal to divest the Salem Steel Plant, in the overall interests of the workers and of Tamil Nadu.
The Prime Minister’s Office, on the recommendation of the NITI Aayog, on September 20, had given the nod for the strategic sale of 22 public sector undertakings (PSUs), including the SAIL plants at Salem, Durgapur and Bhadravati.
P Panneerselvam, president of the Steel Plant Employees Union CITU, told that the nod of the PMO to go for strategic sales had shocked the entire workforce and the people of the country.
He said the move was not a fair one and would badly hit the industrial progress of the country. The centre’s proposal was unacceptable, he said, adding that the government did not listen to the various suggestions put forth by the trade unions for improving the functioning of the SSP and strengthening its economic viability. All political parties of Tamil Nadu and trade unions had opposed the centre’s move. The state government had already said that it would not allow the disinvestment, he said.