Water, unemployment likely to be major poll issues in Kolar
Spread over the entire revenue district of Kolar apart from parts of the recently carved out Chickballapur district, the Kolar Lok Sabha (Reserved) constituency has remained a Congress citadel ever since the first general elections in 1952.
The Congress lost the seat only once — when the Janata Party emerged victorious in the 1984 — in the 15 elections held to the Lok Sabha. All the six Assembly segments of Kolar district — Bangarpet, Kolar, Malur, Mulbagal, Srinivasapur and Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) besides Siddalaghatta and Chintamani Assembly constituencies in Chickballapur district come under the Kolar Lok Sabha constituency.
Silk, milk and gold
The region is well known as land of silk, milk and gold. It is also known for the cultivation of mango and other horticultural crops that are in demand in different parts of Karnataka and other States, and are also exported to foreign countries. Bereft of perennial source of water, tanks are the main source of water in the region.
Drinking water shortage is acute in the region and it is supplied to a number of villages by tankers. Fodder for the cattle is another serious problem in the region. Diseases such as fluorosis are affecting people as they are forced to drink non-potable water. In many parts of the district, groundwater is contaminated.
While on the one hand the agriculture sector is ridden with problems due to lack of proper irrigation facility, farmers who grow crops with lot of difficulties reel under tribulations in the absence of scientific support price. Dumping of tomatoes on roads during crash in prices is a regular feature in the region. Absence of any noteworthy food processing industry is seen as the bane for the horticulture sector.
After termination of mining operations in Bharat Gold Mines Ltd. (BGML) in 2001, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. remained the sole major industrial unit of the district. The closure of mining activities aggravated the unemployment problem. “Around 10,000 people travel daily from Kolar Gold Fields to Bangalore to earn a livelihood as thousands of workers and their family members were left in the lurch in the wake of closure of mining operation,” P. Tangaraj, a youth leader from KGF, said. The hopes of revival of BGML operations still remain a dream in spite of the Supreme Court giving its nod to the Union government’s plan to float a global tender to restart mining activity operations.
Cases of atrocities against Dalits are being reported frequently in the region which has the second highest density of Dalit population in the country. The memories of the Kambalapalli and Nagamarapalli tragedies in which Dalits were brutally killed still haunt people.
Yet another election just around the corner, people of the Kolar constituency wonder why their woes remain unresolved in spite of returning the Congress nominees ever since Independence, particularly K.H. Muniyappa, who has been elected six times in a row since 1991.