Chennai Buzz: Assembly elections announced | MTC workers on strike | Smart Card for GCC services…and more

A recap of some of the most important headlines from the city over the week that went by

Chennai to vote on April 6th, civic body issues directions for model code of conduct

The Election Commission of India, on Friday, announced that Tamil Nadu will go for Assembly elections on April 6th and the results will be declared on May 2nd. This time, the election will be conducted throughout the state in a single phase. March 19th is the last date for filing nominations. 

In view of the elections, the civic body has issued directions for the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Commissioner G Prakash stated that any defacement of public property, such as wall paintings, posters, cut-outs and the like, will have to be erased within 48 hours from the announcement of elections. For private property, any advertisements, subject to the local law and judicial directions, will be erased within 72 hours from the announcement.

Source: The Hindu | The New Indian Express

Commuters hit by transport strike 

With scores of MTC workers on indefinite strike in Chennai, regular commuters have been severely affected. The strike, which has been on since February 25th across Tamil Nadu, was called by workers affiliated with nine trade unions. Their key demands include clearing the provident fund (PF) and other retired employees’ dues, covering transport corporation losses in the Budget and wage revision. 

The transport strike has hit commuters, especially given the scant availability of alternative modes of public transport. With the new line in the works, the number of suburban train services was also limited. The Chennai division operated only 80 trains whereas earlier, 150 trains were operated every day. This is expected to continue till March 13.

While the MTC claims that more than 50% of the buses were operated despite the workers’ strike, the trade unions countered that less than 10% of the fleet were on the roads.

Source: The Hindu | The New Indian Express

Free NEET coaching for Corporation school students

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has initiated free NEET coaching for students of schools run by the civic body. The students will receive training for 100 days under the ‘NEET, Ennal Mudiyum’ (I can) programme. 

From the 250 students, who were ready and willing to take up the competitive exam, the civic body has selected 101 students. The candidates were shortlisted through a screening test that saw the participation of 133 students.  The training for 50 students will happen at Chennai Higher Secondary School in Puliyur while another 51 students will undergo training at the Chennai Girls Higher Secondary School, M.H. Road.

Source: The Hindu | DTNext

Read more: As the world fights a pandemic, IIT-NEET-CLAT aspirants in limbo

Use Smart Card to pay for services offered by GCC

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami launched the Namma Chennai Smart Card that can be used to pay for services provided by the civic body including cycle sharing, property tax etc. The smart cards can be purchased from the e-seva centres in Chennai by providing identity documents and a token fee of Rs 100, following which the card will be activated in two days.

The card, supported by RuPay, integrates various payment methods. The card will attract service charges if used in Point of Sale (PoS) devices. Here are the details:

Spend limitService charges
Less than Rs 1,0000.65%
Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,0000.90%
More than Rs 2,0001.40%

The card, launched in partnership with Chennai Smart City Limited (CSCL) and ICICI Bank, has several features that can be managed online in a separate portal for customers. There are also plans to roll out special features for the customers.

Source: DTNext | Mint

Air pollution killed 11,000 in Chennai

A Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of air quality has showed that the city witnessed 11,000 deaths caused by polluted air. The NGO also studied the real-time health impact and economic cost from PM 2.5 using a web tool, ‘cost estimator’. The web tool estimated that the city witnessed economic losses of Rs 10,910 crore due to air pollution.

Although air quality index showed improvement in the city during the lockdown, Greenpeace India climate campaigner Avinash Chanchal states that air pollution still remains a serious public health hazard, impacting the economy as well. 

Source: The New Indian Express

Read more: Study exposes six major polluting industries in Chennai

Ridership goes up after Metro slashes ticket fares

In the run-up to Assembly elections and consistent demands placed by the commuters of Metro, the Chief Minister slashed the Metro ticket fares last week. 

Vadapalani Metro Station. Pic: Bhavani Prabhakar

Here is the revised fare list:

DistanceTicket fares
Upto 2 kmsRs 10
2 to 5 kmsRs 20
5 to 12 kmsRs 30
Up to 21 kmsRs 40
Above 21 kmsRs 50

The reduction of fares resulted in nearly 86,000 passengers on February 24th. It is to be noted that until recently, Chennai Metro ridership was 55,000 and the authorities hope that ridership will increase to one lakh soon. Officials add that the inauguration of the Phase-I extension has also boosted the number of commuters opting for Metro trains.

Source: The News Minute | The Hindu

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[Compiled by Bhavani Prabhakar]

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