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CPI(M) takes out ‘save Palar’ march - Alleges politician-mafia nexus in plundering river sands

CPI (M) activists took out a 13-km march from Walajapet to Mel Visharam on Thursday, urging the government to protect the river Palar from sand-mining.
Leading the march from Walajapet, G. Ramakrishnan, State secretary of the party, said that exploitation of sand deposits was rampant ever since the government began quarrying activities in the State in 2003. It was continuing unabated through successive the AIADMK and DMK regimes. “The Madras High Court ordered not to engage earth movers to scoop sand from rivers and restricted the miners from going beyond three feet deep. But they go even up to 30 feet deep. Politician-sand mafia nexus became so notorious that government officials and policemen who took action were attacked or killed. ” he said.
The sand mafia not only exploits river sand but also exploits consumers by slapping exorbitant price on sand loads, Mr. Ramakrishnan said Addressing the volunteers participating in the march, N.Gunasekaran, State secretariat member of the party, said that five lakh families belonging to five districts including Vellore and Tiruvannamalai depend on the Palar for their livelihood. “However, the river is not merely a livelihood source; it is a historic monument; an identity of Tamil civilisation and pivot of its long culture. The government’s erroneous policy was responsible for the river’s present sorry state. The murder of police constable Kanagaraj while attempting to stop a vehicle from smuggling sand is a pointer to an impending disaster,” Mr.Gunasekaran observed.
The marchers also wanted action against pollution of the Palar by industrial effluents and wanted eviction of encroachments from the river. A.Narayanan, district secretary of the party, Thinapuratchi, an activist of Joint Committee for Palar Protection and former MLA Hasan were among the participants.
Image & Source Credit: The Hindu

Committee hopes for quota as more apply for Haj pilgrimage

Committee hopes for quota as more apply for Haj pilgrimage
CHENNAI: The annual Haj pilgrimage is expected to begin in October and the Tamil Nadu Haj committee is hoping the Centre will increase the quota for the state owing to a large number of applicants. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa had last week urged the Prime Minister to increase the quota. 

The Tamil Nadu State Haj Committee has received 13,159 applications for the pilgrimage, but the Mumbai-based Haj Committee of India has allotted only 2,672 seats to the state. Of these, 180 seats have been given to the reserved category pilgrims and 1,492 pilgrims were selected under the general category. Subsequently, another 100 seats were allotted by the Haj Committee, leaving a large number of disappointed applicants. Pilgrims from the state are expected to begin flying out from September 15, with Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur likely to account for more than 600 pilgrims. 

Tamil Nadu Haj committee officials said pilgrims would be provided free meals thrice a day during the eight-day stay in Saudi Arabia. The government of that country has issued a travel advisory for pilgrims regarding the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Tamil Nadu Haj committee is in talks with the department of health about vaccinating pilgrims before the journey. 

Every year, on an average, about 1,70,000 Indians visit Saudi Arabia for Haj. 

Ref: Times of India - August 14, 2014 - http://goo.gl/xvJo3p