The slow progress of the work on the Palakkarai road overbridge project in Tiruchi has been causing anxiety to all sections of the society. However, the hopes of the Tiruchiites of getting the work completed shortly got revived with the inspection of the bridge work by Collector Ashish Vachhani a few days ago.

The Collector was quick to understand that the inordinate delay was owing to `lethargic attitude' of a contractor, who was employing only a few workers in the execution for this major project. Mr. Vachhani did not mince words when he severely warned the contractor and even directed him to employ more workers on shift system and complete works without any further.

The Divisional Engineer of the Highways, G. R. Sundar, who accompanied the Collector, assured to take steps to complete all the work by September 30. In an effort to closely monitor the progress of the works, Mr. Vachhani directed the authorities to keep him abreast of the progress every two days till the bridge was thrown open to traffic.

There was much apprehension among soccer fans in some parts of the city ever since ESPN-Star Sports won the telecast rights for the World Cup in Germany.

With these channels going `pay mode', thousands of residents were denied the privilege of viewing them. Sports buffs had to remain content with DD sports and Ten Sports for long.

But then the World Cup was something, which they would not afford to miss. Haunted by the probability of missing out on the event, several residents had even offered to shell out additional bucks towards monthly subscription to the cable operators if that would ensure restoration of the channels.

To their relief, however, the service providers were lenient enough with the small cable operators. The sense of relief is palpable now what with the sports enthusiasts gaining the privilege of watching their favourite stars in action right from start to finish.

Though incidental, the State Forests Minister, N. Selvaraj, apparently enjoyed the privilege of espousing the cause of his Ministry while inaugurating the `free/subsidised rice scheme' at Alakkarai village in the district on Saturday.

The villagers had mobilised 83 coconut saplings and had them distributed along with the bags of rice to the beneficiaries through the Minister. There was also something else beyond the `greening' factor, which made the Minister happy.

For, the villagers celebrated the birthday of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi that way.

The culture of people in rural and sub-urban areas to paste `condolence posters' on buses, as a way of expressing their solidarity with departed souls, is only well known.

But they will have to be careful on this count henceforth. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation has warned that defaulters will be punished appropriately in addition to imposing fines to the tune of Rs. 5,000.

The TNSTC has pasted notices explaining the warning on the buses, mostly those plying on the mofussil routes. Ironically, these notices themselves resemble mini-posters.

With admissions for higher secondary classes kicking off, schools bracketed as `top-notch' by virtue of sustaining their academic performance have turned out to be hot commodities.

Facing a situation of plenty, they exercise the luxury of prioritising the applications in accordance with the marks scored in the Standard X public examinations.

So much so that the requirements are much similar to those of professional colleges- 90 per cent in each of science and maths subjects with the total of not less than 80 per cent. Even students of the same schools, who had scored `not-so-competitive' marks in the major subjects, are being rejected.

Apparently, only the `creamy' segment of students would find their names into the rolls. This being the case, the real competitive element has been lost, lament parents.

(Contributions from Syed Muthahar Saqaf, R. Krishnamoorthy and S. Aishwarya)