New bus stand for Gandharvakottai being built despite protests
The move to build a new bus stand on the outskirts of Gandharvakottai, a taluk headquarters in Pudukottai district, has become a poll issue with Opposition parties trying to cash in on the popular sentiment against the decision.
The small town, located on the Thanjavur-Pudukottai district, has witnessed a series of agitations from traders and the general public over the move to establish the bus stand, about a km away from the existing bus stand near the main junction of the town.
Local residents say the site for the new bus stand, off the Thanjavur Road, is a secluded spot and is not easily accessible to local people.
At least four burial grounds are situated around the site for the bus stand, they said and it would not be safe for people, especially women, children, and elders during nights, they contend.
Despite a bandh observed by local traders and other forms of agitation over the past six to eight months, the work on the bus stand is currently under way, triggering discontent at least among a section of residents in the town.
Local people want the existing bus stand, which functions on the roadside, to be expanded.
“We have been fighting over the issue for the past one-and-a-half years. The existing bus stand has adequate space to be expanded.
“The Gandharvakottai panchayat has also adopted a resolution seeking the expansion of the existing bus stand.
The new site is located in the neighbouring Akkachipatti panchayat,” says G. Nagarajan, president, Village Welfare Committee, which has been fighting for the cause.
The allocation of Rs. 1.63 crore will be adequate to expand the existing bus stand, he says.
Traders, who initially took up the cause, have now backed out fearing political backlash.
“We took up the matter in the interest of public and even organised a bandh and other forms of agitation. But we do not want to be seen as acting in our own interest and have decided to keep off the issue now,” says a local trader. However, he says there is strong discontent among the local people on the issue and it could possibly reflect in the election.
On Thursday, DMDK leader Premalatha Vijayakant, who campaigned at Gandharvakottai, struck a chord with the local people by criticising the move to build the bus stand at the new site ignoring public sentiment. Almost all candidates contesting the Tiruchi Lok Sabha constituency, except the AIADMK, are promising a re-look at the issue.