TAMIL NADU

Reporter's Diary

The quest for information is not something unique to the residents of urban areas. Villagers, living far removed from the urban trappings, have realised the importance of gaining knowledge. From August, residents of 37 villages in the Melur and Kottampatti blocks of Madurai district will be exposed to what is happening around them.

The `Thagaval', a monthly newspaper prepared by those involved in the `Thagavalagam' (rural Internet kiosk) project of the Dhan Foundation, will reach the homes of these villagers.

The July issue was released at a function held in Melur on Friday.

The newspaper carries many interesting information, including the important telephone numbers in the Melur taluk. There are `classified' sections, advertising the sale of household goods.

An exclusive column is devoted for those seeking employment. There is a matrimonial section too. Five thousand copies of this free newspaper have been sent for circulation.

The Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, one of the oldest institutions, has been in service of the public since 1842.

It even boasts of having the State Government Telemedicine Programme that was inaugurated in December 2003 and caters to the populace in southern districts. It has several speciality departments.

But it is plagued by manpower shortage, "lack of medicines, poor funds flow, overcrowding and inadequate civic amenities."

Moved by the pathetic conditions of the hospital where the "infrastructure was not up to the mark to deliver quality medicare to the poor," the Communist Party of India (Marxist) initiated a signature campaign to drum up public support for upgrading the facilities, according to R. Jyoti Ram, urban district secretary of the party.

The signature campaign evoked good response from the public and the party was able to mobilise signatures from 75,000 persons within a short period of time.

Once it crossed the one-lakh mark, the party would submit it along with a memorandum to the Chief Minister. The hospital has been in dire need of improvement since those below the poverty line depend on it, he reasons.

Though the Safety Organisation of the Southern Railway conducts awareness programmes frequently on the safety measures to be adopted by the people while crossing the level crossings, some road-users often tend to cross the tracks by violating the rules.

Motorists/cyclists managing to cross the tracks even after the gates are closed is a common scene in the city, particularly at Sellur and Koodal Nagar. Unmindful of the approaching train, some persons stand in close vicinity to the tracks with their vehicles.

Sleuths of the Railway Protection Force should be posted at the railway gates to prevent such happenings, and impose a penalty on or even prosecute those crossing the tracks dangerously, feel a section of the public.

The success of any function depends on how well the organisers plan the schedule.

Similarly, prior announcements could ensure proper conduct of the programme without any confusion.

An example was a literary competition for students organised by the Shriram Chits Company at the Setupati Higher Secondary School on Saturday.

After the conclusion of the inaugural function, the organisers made it a point to inform the students in detail about the different levels of competition, who should assemble in which hall, the topic and duration allotted for their presentation and the pattern of awarding marks.

Parents and teachers also appreciated the measure adopted by the organisers.

(Contributions from

S. Annamalai,

J.V. Siva Prasanna

Kumar,

S. Vijay Kumar and

M.R. Aravindan.)

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