S. Annamalai

There are 11 representatives in the 31-member Ministry

MADURAI: The south never had it so good 11 representatives in the 31-member Ministry. This is the reward for favouring the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led front in closely contested elections.

With the induction of so many Ministers, a mix of veterans and greenhorns, hopes of putting south Tamil Nadu on a fast track to development have touched a new high.

This is the first time that all the nine southern districts, except Theni, are represented in the Ministry. And it has also led to a conviction among people that it is "now or never." In the past, many unrepresented districts had to suffer for want of a Minister to take up their case with the Government.

During the last regime, Theni district came to be recognised as "the most pampered" district because of the presence of a Chief Minister and a former Chief Minister.

On the other hand, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram did not see any development as they could not have a representative for the full term in the Ministry.

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister, P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan, has already promised to bring schemes for the all-round development of Madurai.

The trade and industry is particularly buoyant. An industrialist was confident that the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project would have a smooth sailing. The coastal districts of Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari have overwhelmingly voted for the DMK-led alliance, allaying fears over opposition from fishermen for the project.

Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president S. Rethinavelu said the 11 Ministers should work for infrastructure development and industrialisation of the south.

The Confederation of Indian Industry has a comprehensive report on the industrialisation of southern districts, which requires serious consideration from the new Government. Mr. Rethinavelu said all the chambers of commerce of the region were ready to offer suggestions for the improvement of the region. The Ministers should work as a group to get priority in implementation of development projects for the region.

A cross section of industrialists feels that immediate attention should be given for speeding up the Sethusamudram project, four-laning of national highways and expansion of the Madurai airport.

This would attract more investors to the south and also prevent migration of entrepreneurs to northern districts and Pondicherry.