Chennai: As Tamil Nadu reels under the worst water crisis, the ruling AIADMK Saturday performed ‘yagna’ in temples across the state, while the Opposition DMK staged “empty pot” demonstrations, urging the government to take steps to address the issue.Senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar took part in a ‘yagna’ at a Shiva temple here and planted saplings in the premises of the shrine. He told reporters that performing yagnas was “an expression of faith”, hoping that the Almighty will answer their prayers for rain. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in HaryanaDMK leader and former city mayor Ma Subramanian, who led an agitation here, hit out at the AIADMK, saying executing plans with rationale alone could help address the situation. “Conducting such rituals have no utility,” he said. Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani took part in a ‘yagna’ at Patteeswaram temple in Coimbatore district. As Velumani took part in prayers, hundreds of DMK cadres staged a protest, seeking the minister’s resignation for his “failure” to create necessary infrastructure for water supply. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: ShahTalking to reporters later, he said the move to bring water from Jolarpet in Vellore district to Chennai would not affect the water availability there. Former Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai took part in a prayer in another city temple. Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan participated in a puja at Pachamalai Murugan temple in Erode district. Cooperation Minister Sellur K Raju took part in special prayers in Meenakshi and Subramania Swamy temples at Madurai. He said Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam have asked the 50 district party units to hold prayers in temples for rains. “Even as they tasked us to hold pujas, rains have started in Chennai and Madurai too will get showers,” Raju said, adding divine power has helped. Transport Minsiter M R Vijayabaskar and Agriculture Minister R Doraikkannu took part in prayers in Aadikumbeshwara and Pasupatheeshwara temples at Kumbakonam and Karur, respectively.
Daniel Webb from the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre said fundamental problems with the policy remained.“A transition to an open centre (is) an important and hard-won improvement, but letting people go for a walk does not resolve the fundamental problems caused by indefinitely warehousing them on a tiny remote island,” he said.“The men, women and children on Nauru need a real solution — settlement in a safe place where they can rebuild their lives.“Instead they’re being left languishing in an environment that is clearly unsafe for women and children.” Adeang said Australia was assisting the transition to an open centre, including providing more police support and suitable health care for the asylum-seekers.Under the plan, the number of community liaison officers will be increased from 135 to 320 to help asylum-seekers, who come from countries including Iran and Sri Lanka, settle in the country of 10,000.The Australian government welcomed Nauru’s announcement, saying more limited open arrangements had been in place at the camp since February, allowing some detainees to leave the centre unescorted during agreed hours on certain days. The Nauru RPC was set up as part of Canberra’s hardline asylum-seeker policies under which those arriving on people-smuggling boats are not held in Australian territory.Another camp is located on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. “The start of detention-free processing is a landmark day for Nauru and represents an even more compassionate programme, which was always the intention of our government,” Justice Minister David Adeang said. It also promised to process all outstanding refugee claims for those living in the centre — about 600 of them — within a week. “We also welcome the news that the Nauruan government has undertaken to finalise the remaining refugee claims that have been under consideration for some time,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement. Nauru announced Monday that asylum-seekers at an Australian immigration camp on the Pacific island, including those from Sri Lanka, will no longer be locked up, saying they will instead be free to roam around the tiny nation.The Nauru government said the Regional Processing Centre (RPC) had been converted into an “open centre”, giving its inhabitants freedom of movement, the AFP news agency reported. Dutton said Canberra was committed to the regional processing arrangements.“We will continue to support the government of Nauru… to deliver settlement services to refugees,” he added.Refugee advocates, who allege abuses, including rape, have occurred on the island, said the change was an 11th-hour move that coincided with an Australian court case this week challenging the legality of Canberra’s policy.