Special Correspondent

The people of the Union Territory were affected by the immense destruction caused by the tsunami

PONDICHERRY: 2005 was marked by an unprecedented number of strikes, demonstrations and road rokos in the Union Territory. The year began on an agonising note following the devastation caused by the tsunami in Pondicherry and Karaikal districts. An estimated 600 persons were washed away by the killer waves. The losses, caused by destruction to property, farmlands and infrastructure, were immense. The Government mobilised funds to provide relief and rehabilitation to the affected families.

The visit of Central and State teams to the tsunami-hit areas for on the spot assessment of damages and other related works infused hope and confidence in the people. Chief Minister N. Rangasamy announced a cash relief of Rs. 500 and 10 kg rice for all families. However, several agitations were held in protest against inadequate or poor relief.

Politically, the year was filled with events. The formation of a new political party, Puduchery Munnetra Congress, by the former Home Minister, P. Kannan, was an important development. Mr. Kannan severed his relations with the ruling Congress in March. He has since then used every opportunity to bring to focus the shortcomings and discrepancies in the working of the government.

The year was marked by rallies and demonstrations by government staff. The engineering staff in the Public Works Department went on en masse leave to bring to focus their demands. The agitation, however, tapered off within days, with the Chief Minister extended an assurance that the needful would be done.

Then came the turn of the Ministerial staff, who constitute a sizeable number in the administrative apparatus. They were up in arms against the "delay in restructuring clerical and assistants posts." They went on mass earned leave from December 12. This agitation too did not last. The government promised the agitating staff that their demands would be considered sympathetically. At one stage, they were warned that continued absence would attract the provisions of relevant rules.

On the whole, 2005 was an eventful year.