P. Sudhakar and J. Praveen Paul Joseph
Power crisis, drinking water shortage and poor roads are the pressing problems
TUTICORIN: Famous for its pearls and salt, Tuticorin, one of Tamil Nadu’s industrial hubs, is home to one of the ten major ports in the country. Though it has a number of commercial establishments and industrial units, the scope for expanding employment opportunities remains underexploited.
The much awaited Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, expected to increase employment, has been delayed for various reasons. The project, once implemented, is expected to bring prosperity not only to Tuticorin but to the neighbouring coastal districts also.
The Tuticorin Lok Sabha constituency comprises Tiruchendur, Srivaikuntam, Tuticorin, Ottapidaram, Kovilpatti and Vilathikulam Assembly segments. Tuticorin district was carved out of Tirunelveli in 1986. After delimitation, it has replaced the Tiruchendur Lok Sabha constituency, which elected representatives from the district.
Besides the port, whose performance is improving every year, it is home to a thermal power station, a fishing harbour, a good number of small and big industrial units in the periphery and a vibrant salt industry.
The commercial transactions here run into crores of rupees every day.
Like any other part of Tamil Nadu, industrial units in and around Tuticorin have also been suffering huge production losses owing to erratic power supply and scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. Though “load-shedding” has been withdrawn for the past few days in view of the elections, industrialists here firmly believe that power situation would worsen after May 13 (polling day) and their units would have to suffer power cuts for more than five hours a day.
Though hundreds of trucks traverse this port town, not a single stretch in Tuticorin has been motorable for the past several decades.
While the inner roads even within the corporation limits are suitable only for bullock cart travel, vehicular movement on the main roads ridden with potholes is hampered by rampant encroachment.
If the Tuticorin West and Tuticorin East railway stations are shifted to the nearby Meelavittaan station, it would provide a permanent solution to the perennial traffic congestion within the town.
When Geetha Jeevan was elected to the Assembly from Tuticorin, she promised the residents regular and adequate supply of drinking water, but no step has been taken so far to augment drinking water supply and several parts of Tuticorin are now getting drinking water once in three days.
Though the fishing harbour is overcrowded with mechanised boats and has been craving for better basic amenities for the past several years, no step has been taken to improve the condition of this facility.
Apart from expanding the existing fishing harbour, a new fishing harbour may be established at Tharuvaikulam, a coastal hamlet situated about just 10 Km from Tuticorin on the Rameswaram Highway, from where more than 40 mechanised vessels and over 300 mechanised country boats are operating.
The contest is expected to be between the DMK and AIADMK. In rural pockets, electors look at Vijayakant’s DMDK as an alternative. All contestants in this newly-formed constituency are debutants.
The AIADMK has nominated former Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University Cynthia Pandian as its candidate. The DMK has opted for S.R. Jayadurai, a traditional medical practitioner. M.S. Sundar is the DMDK candidate.
Mr. Jayadurai says he will work towards establishing a government engineering college in the district though the State government has already announced the establishment of an engineering college here.
His promise to the electorate is to revive the defunct industrial units in Tuticorin. The Sethu project will be completed if people voted for the DMK-led alliance and the AIADMK is opposed to it, he says.
Ms. Pandian, wife of former Assembly Speaker P.H. Pandian, assures the electors that she would work to provide quality education for students, drinking water facilities in all corners of the district, undertake initiatives to keep the environment free from pollution and establish small scale units.
Mr. Sundar, an industrialist, has assured to work for the formation of a cluster for match factories and provision of cold storage facility for fishermen.
S. Saravanan, Akila Indiya Samathuva Makkal Katchi candidate, says water scarcity would not be a problem if the Bharatiya Janata Party alliance was voted to power. His promises include introduction of more trains to various destinations from Tuticorin.