The two main candidates trying to woo north Indian community and the minority people

In a constituency where the Central Business District took shape years ago, the poll issues range from infrastructure development to welfare measures for the urban poor. Harbour constituency reflects the cultural past of the city but also continues to catalyse growth and development of Chennai. The constituency has within its limits the old and the new Assembly complexes, High Court and Southern Railway headquarters.

The poll issues have their roots in areas such as George Town that are battling issues such as congestion, poor sanitation and inadequate power supply. Despite the efforts of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) to decongest, George Town continues to gain momentum commercially and demographically.

Of the 1,45,183 voters in the constituency, many have their roots in other States and the 14 candidates in the fray are wooing them with promises of addressing their grievances. The constituency has 157 polling stations. There are 75,621 male, 69,531 female and 31 others.

The sitting MLA of Harbour constituency is Finance Minister and DMK general secretary K.Anbazhagan, who had won the seat with a margin of 409 votes. This time he is contesting from Villivakkam constituency.

The contest between the candidates of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam front in Harbour constituency is likely to be tough on account of addition of Chennai Corporation Divisions such as Peddunaickenpet (43), Perumal Koil Garden (44), Elephant Gate (48) and Edapalayam (49) after the delimitation. Earlier, the four divisions were part of the Park Town constituency.

Kondithope (23), Seven Wells (24), Amman Koil (25), Muthialpet (26), Vallal SeethaKadhi Nagar (27), Katchaleeswarar Nagar (28), Seven Wells (29), Sowcarpet (30) and Nehru Nagar (80) are other Divisions coming under the constituency. Nehru Nagar was previously part of Chepauk constituency.

The main contest will be between Altaf Hussain of IUML, which is part of the DMK front, and Pala Karuppiah of AIADMK. Both of them are trying to woo the north Indian community and people belonging to the minority community in the area.

The campaign would address the feeling of insecurity experienced by people from other parts of the country, said Mr. Karuppiah.

Mr. Hussain says he would strive for harmony among all sections of society and create an atmosphere of security for the trading community and the minorities.

There are also civic issues that the residents want to be addressed. “Sewage overflow and drinking water contamination are common in our area. Residents have to bring water in lorries spending huge sums of money,” said Navratan Chand, a resident.

“Apart from spending on drinking water, we spend Rs.900 for purchasing a load of water in a lorry twice a week,” he added.

Lal Chand, another voter, blamed the government's policy for an abrupt increase in the residential rental value. “My landlord has hiked the rent of my house from 3,750 to Rs.7,000 in a period of six months. Now the rent is likely to be increased to 10,000. This is partly because of the increase in the construction cost,” he added. “Power supply disruption has been affecting us. Metrowater supply has been disrupted for six months,” said K.C.Jain, a resident of Peddunaickenpet.

S.Ellamma, a resident of Kondithope, says that they would vote for a candidate who would be able to address the grievance of the residents affected by chain snatching and other anti-social elements. The proximity to port, railway and road transport facilities has helped the constituency sustain its momentum but pollution caused by the port is of concern to residents such as Ashok Kumar. “We want candidates to address the pollution caused by the handling of dirty cargo by the port,” he says. However, he also acknowledges that George Town located near the port has a geographical advantage for the export and import agencies in the area that fuel growth of wholesale and retail business. It was this advantage of a sea port in the vicinity that was utilised by the early settlers. Candidates, including those of DMK and AIADMK fronts, have assured voters of a solution to the air pollution. Better facilities for slum localities have also been assured.

What they say

Altaf Hussain, IUML candidate:

We will be constructing better houses for the slum dwellers.

We will also be making untiring efforts to provide the slum-dwellers with patta for them. Problem of drainage will be solved by provision of better infrastructure. Efforts will be taken to create harmony among all the communities.

Pala Karuppiah, AIADMK candidate:

Our focus will be on improving the quality of life of the residents of the constituency.

Measures to control the persisting pollution caused by cargo handled by the port would be taken. Better drainage infrastructure will be provided.

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Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012