In a clear pointer to Karaikal-based groups demanding a separate Union Territory status for Karaikal, Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam has rebuffed their demands pitching it against the government’s developmental initiatives in Karaikal.

The Chief Minister was speaking at the inaugural of the revitalised Karaikal Ammayar Temple tank and the Arasalar bridge here on Saturday. The revitalization project of the 16th century temple tank was funded under the Union Ministry of Tourism at a cost of Rs.3.46 crore.

The 6,620 sq.mt tank has been provided with two-level benching, toe walls, and a three-sided compound wall along with grill works. The slushy tank bed of about 1.1meters was desilted and restocked with river sand with provision for percolation channels. The tank has also been provided with water circulation arrangements with inlet and outlet channels to ensure clear water storage.

Presiding over the occasion, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram spoke of the need to have “not just good leaders but also efficient ones” at the helm and also to ensure their return to power in order to guarantee development.

V. Narayanasamy, Union Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture stated that Karaikal has been allotted with Rs.77 crores under PURA (providing urban amenities to rural areas), under which seven villages were adopted for urban facilities.

A. M. H.Nazeem, leader of Opposition, Puducherry Assembly, called for a dedicated water distribution scheme for Karaikal. “Since the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission does not extend to Karaikal, the poor drinking water quality of Karaikal needs to be addressed under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT).” However, since funds under UIDSSMT were already sanctioned for a drinking water scheme to Yanam, Mr. Nazeen sought diversion of funds from the JNNURM to UIDSSMT and the Home Minister’s intervention in this regard.

According to Mr. Nazeem, since the grant of “district” status to Karaikal and upgradation of the post of regional administrator to that of District Collector, 23 posts were recommended for creation for the office of District Collector. However, the sanction was still pending with the Ministry of Home. The leader of the Opposition requested the Home Minister to expedite the issue in order to strengthen the district administration.

The new 56 metre-bridge across river Arasalar has been funded by the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport, and Highways, at a cost of Rs.7.09 crores. The Arasalar bridge, reportedly dating back to 120 years, was washed away by the tsunami in 2004. A bailey bridge was set up with the assistance of the Army in its place. Later, a reinforced concrete bridge was constructed downstream the old bridge under the aegis of the Puducherry government.