Tamil name board order breached; paltry fine blamed

Inadequate inspection by the labour department is also blamed for the poor compliance.
English name boards spotted
English name boards spotted (Photo | Express)

COIMBATORE: The state government's order to use Tamil versions too in the name boards of establishments, shops and government departments is not followed seriously in the Coimbatore district. The violation of the order is blamed on the paltry Rs 100 penalty imposed on those who violate the order even though the mandated fine is Rs 2,000.  

Inadequate inspection by the labour department is also blamed for the poor compliance.  

English name boards are mostly spotted as we glance at several shops, hotels, saloons, car showrooms, gyms, and private firms in several places in the city and outskirts.

As per Government Order (GO) 1541 of the Labour and Employment Department, the name board of every establishment shall be in Tamil and wherever other languages are also used, the English version shall be in the second place followed by the versions in other languages.

Further, the GO says that whenever other languages are also used, the space for Tamil, English and other languages in the name board shall be in the ratio 5:3:2 and the Tamil letters in the name board shall be in the reform script.

In practice, several establishments in primary places in the city and outskirts do not follow this GO and mention their names only in English and Hindi versions. Even the Coimbatore municipal corporation doesn't follow the order. It has mentioned only the English version for the Kumaraswamy Lake on its arch at Gandhi Park. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has used only English in the arch before the Botanical Garden.

An officer from the Tamil Development Department in the district told TNIE that they are verbally instructing establishments and government departments to ensure the use of the Tamil board even though it has no power to carry out inspections.

"Commercial establishments are ready to pay the Rs 100 fine imposed by the labour department officers for putting up only the  English board. Establishment owners are reluctant to use the name in Tamil considering the higher expenses compared to the version only in English. A typical name board mentioning Tamil too will cost Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 depending on its size. Many don't change the board after paying the small penalty. This issue is across the state," she said.

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"The labour department does not often inspect establishments regarding the usage of Tamil board due to inadequate staff and workload. The government should form an inspection committee exclusively at least at the regional level to hold inspections regularly," she suggested.

Meanwhile, the police note of the Tamil Development and Information Department for 2024-25 says the imposition of the penalty for violations regarding name boards has been increased from Rs 50 to Rs 2,000 and the same was notified by the Department of Labour Welfare and Skill Development in October 2023.

While speaking with the TNIE, an officer of the labour department claimed the Tamil Development Department is yet to enforce the 2,000 penalty if the Tamil board is not used. He admitted that they are imposing a penalty of just Rs 100 for violation.

The officer also said that they imposed penalties on 161 establishments in Coimbatore in 2023 and 2024 and collected a penalty of Rs 17,600.

"We are inspecting establishments periodically. Establishments are not too keen to comply with the order as the penalty is very low. A penalty of Rs 2,000 should be enforced to reduce non-compliance," he hoped.

Ulaga Tamil Kappu Kootiyakkam coordinator C Subramaniyam cited the example of Karnataka. "In Karnataka, all shops have a Kannada version on their board without fail as they execute the order strictly unlike in Tamil Nadu."

"We have been urging the state government to ensure that the Tamil version of the board is used in all establishments, but officers are silent. Chief Minister MK Stalin should look into this matter," Subramaniyam noted.

When asked about it, Tamil Development and Information Department Director N Arul told TNIE, "Already, we have communicated to the labour department that the penalty for an establishment is Rs 2,000. We would check if there is a communication gap in this regard."

He assured that he would take steps to intensify the inspection through the labour department.  

Repeated attempts to contact Minister for Tamil Development and Information and Publicity MP Saminathan went in vain.

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