Centre directs Tamil Nadu government to withdraw order allowing full occupancy in cinemas, seeks compliance report

Published : January 06, 2021 20:43 IST

At a cinema hall in Chennai after the State government allowed cinemas to screen films with 50 per cent occupancy in November. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Narendra Modi government at the Centre has written to the Tamil Nadu government asking it to reverse its order allowing 100 per cent occupancy in cinema halls. As of now the State government has allowed only 50 per cent occupancy.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K. Shanmugham, noted that the Centre’s pandemic period restrictions and the notification is in operation until January 31. He drew the attention of the State government to the notification which states that “the State/UT governments shall not dilute these guidelines issued under the DM Act, 2005, in any manner and shall strictly enforce the same”. The letter, dated January 6, also asked the State government to report back to the Centre on the “compliance”.

The Tamil Nadu government issued the order following a request from actors Vijay and Simbu. Movies that both have acted in are scheduled to release for Pongal. The Tamil Nadu Revenue Secretary had issued the order, taking by surprise the Ministries working on COVID-19 control. A few senior Secretary-level officers expressed surprise over the move and questioned the sudden and unexpected notification. “How did such a government order get issued when it is well known that all such pandemic-related issues should be discussed with the departments concerned?” asked a senior official.

Frontline reported earlier today that the Central government was seized of the issue of 100 per cent occupancy in cinema halls. The Centre’s letter, virtually reprimanding the State, was issued a few hours later.