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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Delimitation exercise over in State

VILLUPURAM: The exercise of redrawing the boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies has been completed in the State. The new boundaries will take effect after a Presidential notification.
The Delimitation Commission has heeded some of the objections expressed by voters during public hearings in Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchi and Chennai three months ago.
In the draft scheme, there was no Lok Sabha constituency called Mayiladuthurai. But, this now has been reversed and the nomenclature, Mayiladuthurai, has survived. The existing Triplicane Assembly constituency in Chennai was sought to be abolished, but the proposal has been dropped.

Under the new scheme, nearly all the wards now falling under the constituencies of Chepauk and Triplicane come under one Assembly constituency: Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni.
The Commission has accepted the suggestion of declaring the Kallakurichi Lok Sabha constituency a general seat as four out of the six Assembly constituencies coming under it are reserved for Scheduled Castes/Tribes.

However, it has not accepted some of the objections. For instance, there was criticism of the change of nomenclature of Nagercoil Lok Sabha constituency to Kanniyakumari.
The proposal to abolish Tirupattur Lok Sabha constituency was opposed stoutly.
In terms of distribution of reserved Lok Sabha constituencies, the northern belt has four (Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Villupuram and Chidambaram) with the central, western and southern regions accounting for one each (Mayiladuthurai, the Nilgiris and Tenkasi respectively).

Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts have been allotted two additional Assembly constituencies each, while Vellore, Krishnagiri, Coimbatore, Pudukottai and Virudhunagar districts will have one extra constituency each.
Thanjavur stands to lose two Assembly constituencies and Tiruvannamlai, Villupuram, Perambalur, Sivaganga, Theni, Ramanthapuram, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari districts one each.

Chennai and Coimbatore districts have the maximum of 16 Assembly constituencies each, followed by Vellore with 13; Kancheepuram, Villupuram and Salem 11 each and Tiruvallur, Erode, Madurai and Tirunelveli 10 each.

The Commission has achieved the objective of ensuring near uniform distribution of population among the constituencies. There are 44 SC reserved Assembly constituencies and two ST reserved Assembly constituencies (Yercaud in Salem and Senthamangalam in Namakkal).
The Commission published its draft proposals on April 5, 2007. It then held four public hearings.
The final order was passed on August 13.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Work on infrastructure development programme to begin in two months

VILLUPURAM: Work on the Rs.729-crore Comprehensive Infrastructure Road Development (CIRD) programme will begin in two months.
As part of the programme, improvement and widening of roads, coming under the control of the State Highways department, will be taken up. The total length of the roads to be covered under the programme this year is around 3,200 km. Forty-two bridges and culverts will also be built.
About 10 days ago, the department issued a government order, directing the Chief Engineer (General) to take up the works early. A senior government official said the necessary groundwork for most of the works had been completed. The execution would begin by September end or early October.
More time would be required for the bridges as the designs have to be scrutinised before floating bids. The department proposes to complete the other works within six months to one year.
Of the sanctioned amount for the current year, Rs.310 crore has been set apart for State Highways (SH); Rs.224 crore for Major District Roads (MDR) and Rs.132 crore for Other District Roads (ODR). Works costing about Rs.62 crore, under the Special Component Plan, will be executed to cover different stretches of ODR to improve connectivity to habitations of Scheduled Castes.
In terms of regions, the southern districts, covered by the Madurai and Tirunelveli circles of the department, have been sanctioned Rs.220 crore. The central parts of the State — Tiruchi circle — have been given Rs.120 crore, while the Chennai circle, comprising the districts of Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts, has been allotted Rs.100 crore. The remaining parts of the State, under the jurisdiction of Salem, Coimbatore and Villupuram circles, have been sanctioned a total of Rs.290 crore.
During 2006-2007, works costing around Rs.680 crore were completed under the same programme.

Court stops work on establishing medical college at Villupuram

VILLUPURAM: Special Correspondent

Authorities, who are in the process of establishing a Government Medical College at Villupuram, were on Tuesday restrained by the Madras High Court from dumping earth debris in the Mundiyambakkam lake area in Villupuram.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice P. Jyothimani gave the interim direction on a public interest litigation petition filed by eight persons who said that if the lake was levelled for constructing buildings it would adversely affect hundreds of farmers in the area. Adjourning the matter to August 16 for further proceedings, the Bench said, “in the mean time, until further orders, the respondents are directed not to dump any earth debris in the lake area or make any alteration at the site.”

The petitioners, describing the lake as a lifeline for farmers, said authorities had already started digging the soil on the 42-acre Mundiyambakkam lake bed for the proposed construction activities. They said that in spite of the mounting public opposition to such constructions, officials concerned did not heed the demands and requests of the people. Foundation stone for the project was laid on May 19 this year.

“The decision of the respondents to construct the medical college in the lake is in violation of Doctrine of Public Trust, as the State being the trustee of the natural resources and public property it should maintain the traditional usage particular to that form of resources,” the petition said.

No truth in Karunanidhi's statement on Tata project

VILLUPURAM: Continuing his tirade against the proposed titanium-dioxide project of Tata Group at Sattankulam in Tuticorin district, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S Ramadoss today said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's statement that the project would not affect the area was false.
Ramadoss told reporters here that there was no need for a government team to elicit the opinion of local people since it was certain that the area would become a desert if the project was implemented.
He said a report submitted by local officials to the Collector on the project on September 26 last year had clearly stated that it would harm the environment and agriculture. The report had said that land should be dug upto eight metres for mining work and this would destroy agriculture in the area, the PMK leader said.
The report had warned of severe drought in the area if the project was implemented and said that local people would be forced to migrate in search of employment to other areas, Ramadoss said adding even the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had opposed the project saying that all plant life in the area would be wiped out.
The ruling DMK government had signed an MoU with the Tata Group to set up a titanium-dioxide factory at Sattankulam.
After stiff opposition from a key ally, the PMK and opposition parties -AIADMK and MDMK- the government had constituted a six-member committee to elicit the views of local people. PTI

Sunday, August 05, 2007

State Government considering creches on NREGA worksites

VILLUPURAM: The State government will “consider” providing crèches on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) worksites in Villupuram district, where local anganwadis and balwadis are not operational, Director of Rural Development Gagandeep Singh Bedi said here on Saturday.
He was responding to the recommendations of a social audit of the act conducted in Villupuram by the district administration and NREGA Watch — a coalition of NGOs, labour unions, women’s groups and Dalit rights organisations.
“Only in very few work sites did we see crèche facilities,” said Annie Raja, member of the Central Employment Guarantee Council and general secretary, National Federation of Indian Women.
While anganwadis are usually open for operation from 9.30 a.m., work sanctioned under the NREGA often commences at 7 a.m., Ms. Raja noted.
A survey of NREGA participants conducted by NREGA Watch reveals that seventy per cent of respondents stated that “there were no childcare facilities at the worksite” and eighty five per cent of mothers who left their children at home said they “would certainly bring their children” to the worksite if a crèche was provided.
The survey also reveals that while that the anganwadi system works for older children, it poses problems for women with infants. Only five per cent of surveyed women said that they left infants in anganwadis.
The NREGA, passed in 2005, mandates that “provisions shall be made to depute workers… to look after children below the age of six years” who accompany women to work sites.
Rural Development Minister M.K. Stalin had said on Friday that the recommendation that a crèche was needed on work sites would not be acted upon by the administration, since most villages in Tamil Nadu had multiple anganwadis or balwadis.
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