Problems mount for both knitwear and farm sectors in Tirupur

While the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had comfortably won the Tirupur Lok Sabha seat in the last general election, this constituency in western Tamil Nadu may well turn out to be a litmus test for all the key party contestants in the 2014 election. The constituency was carved out after the last delimitation exercise ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Comprising the six Assembly segments of Tirupur North, Tirupur South, Gobichettipalayam, Anthiyur, Bhavani and Perundurai, this relatively new Parliamentary seat is all set to witness its second electoral battle this time.

As problems mount for both the apparel industry in the Tirupur knitwear cluster — a major foreign exchange earner for the country — and the predominant farming community in Anthiyur, Gobichettipalayam and Bhavani areas, a cross-section of voters in the constituency attribute the “perennial” issues to the “lack of enthusiasm” on the part of the elected representatives after having made tall promises during the campaign.

People expect convincing answers to the electors’ queries on how issues like power cuts, continuing discharge of industrial effluents into water bodies which has been affecting the farming community, indiscriminate tapping of groundwater for industrial purposes, lack of attractive support prices for majority of agriculture produce, among other grievances, will be addressed by their prospective representatives. In particular, the promise of implementing ‘Athikadavu-Avinashi Flood Flow Canal Scheme’, which has remained an assurance for many decades, continues to resonate in the ears of voters.

“A candidate with a vision for at least 10 years should get elected,” says T. R. Vijayakumar, apparel exporter and executive committee member of Tirupur Exporters’ Association.

On the infrastructure front, the apparel business fraternity has been asking for widening of roads from Tirupur to the V. O. C Port in Tuticorin, besides setting up a dedicated railway freight corridor either from Tirupur or Coimbatore to Tuticorin. Ring roads around Tirupur too need to be developed to avoid congestion in Tirupur city, it stresses.

“These steps will help reduce the transportation time for cargo to reach the V. O. C. Port en route to foreign destinations,” R. Girish, an apparel exporter and founder-member of the Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers’ Association, points out.

The substantial population of farmers in this constituency looks forward to having an elected representative who would stand with it to fight against the rampant illegal tapping of groundwater resources.

“Already, the groundwater is over-exploited in the region. Despite frequent representations to the authorities, groundwater is being drawn for industrial purposes at a time against the rules and, thereby, causing hardships to farmers,” Vanchipalayam K. Durai, a farmer and secretary of Tirupur Groundwater Protection Committee, says.

Overall, an interesting contest is on the cards in Tirupur constituency as the AIADMK and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) have fielded relatively lesser known candidates in V. Sathyabama and M. Senthilnathan, respectively, even as the Aam Aadmi Party, Congress and the BJP-alliance (Tirupur has been allotted to its ally, the Vijayakant-led DMDK) are also set to pose serious challenges.

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