Lok Sabha Election 2019

Water woes, Palar pollution leave Vellore residents a worried lot

Residents in Vellore district are pinning their hopes on their soon-to-be-elected MP to solve problems ranging from pollution of the Palar, groundwater depletion and unemployment to poor infrastructure.

With six Assembly constituencies, Vellore has a blend of leather industries, agriculture and educational institutions. The election to this Parliamentary constituency was deferred by the Election Commission in April, following the seizure of huge amounts of money from the premises of the DMK’s candidate as well as those belonging to party cadre associated with him.

A common problem for all the constituencies is the depletion of groundwater. S.R. Devadoss, Vellore district joint secretary of the CPI, said, “The depletion is mainly due to over-extraction and sand smuggling. Agriculture has taken a hit as a result. Vellore was known for its rice production once upon a time. But now, nearly 75% of it has disappeared.”

K. Loganathan, district president, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam, said farmers were struggling as there was no rain and even coconut trees had been damaged. “We have asked for relief, but there has been no response from the government,” he added. He said Palar river had become a dumping yard for all kinds of waste, including industrial effluents and sewage. He said the linking of rivers like Thenpennai and Palar will go some way towards solving the problems facing the district. “Andhra Pradesh is increasing the height of check dams, which will affect water supply to Vellore and neighbouring districts, including Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvallur. The government should take action,” Mr. Loganathan added.

The Palar runs 33 km in Andhra pradesh and 222 km in Vellore district, and there is only one check dam, constructed during the British rule, in the district. “However, the State government has not constructed any check dams to retain water,” Mr. Loganathan said.

Apart from water and agricultural problems, struggling industries are also a cause of concern in the district. Cottage industries, that were once flourishing in the district, have taken a hit. “Leather, beedi industries and weaving have declined over the years. Now, the existing ones have taken a hit due to GST,” said R. Mullai of the CPI. Unemployment has increased in the district as a result. “Thousands have been struggling for the past many years. The government should take steps to solve this problem by bringing in more non-polluting industries,” he said.

Residents also want the government to provide a separate fund for the clean-up of Palar river. They have sought steps to mitigate pollution in Ranipet. “Many people visit the district as tourists and also come here to get to the Christian Medical College and the Vellore Institute of Technology. However, the roads are in bad shape and there is a need for improvements in public transport,” said G. Senthil Nathan, a resident of Vellore.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 3:17:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/water-woes-palar-pollution-leave-vellore-residents-a-worried-lot/article28810109.ece

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