Farm land acquisition, industrial pollution key issues in Cuddalore

In Cuddalore Lok Sabha constituency, a three-cornered fight is in the offing between the Congress, the PMK, and the DMDK. The proposed acquisition of lands by the NLC India Limited is among the most pressing issues in the constituency

April 02, 2024 11:29 pm | Updated April 03, 2024 07:13 am IST - CUDDALORE

A view of NLC India Ltd (NLCIL) at Neyveli in Cuddalore district.

A view of NLC India Ltd (NLCIL) at Neyveli in Cuddalore district. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Battlelines have been clearly drawn in Cuddalore Parliamentary constituency where a three-cornered fight is in the offing between the Congress, the PMK and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). The Naam Tamilar Katchi is also in the fray.

The Congress has fielded its sitting MP from Arani Lok Sabha constituency M.K. Vishnu Prasad, while the PMK has put its faith in film director Thankar Bachan and the DMDK former Panruti MLA P. Sivakolunthu is in the fray again. Notably, all hail from one of the the dominant communities in the region - Vanniyars. Mr. Vishnu Prasad is the brother-in-law of PMK president Anbumani Ramadoss.

The constituency, comprises the Assembly constituencies of Thittagudi (Reserved) - DMK, Vriddhachalam (Congress), Neyveli (DMK), Panruti (DMK), Cuddalore (DMK) and Kurunjipadi (DMK), has 14,12,746 voters, which included 6,93,353 men, 7,19,178 women and 215 others. Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi founder T. Velmurugan contested the 2021 Assembly elections from Panruti on the DMK symbol.

With the six Assembly constituencies with the DMK-led front now, Mr. Vishnu Prasad expresses confidence about his victory. According to political observers, the socio-political situation is in favour of the DMK. In the past 17 elections, people stood with the Congress seven times and the DMK five times. The AIADMK won the seat in 1998 and in 2014 when A. Arunmozhithevan defeated K. Nandagopalakrishnan of the DMK by a margin of 2,03,125 votes

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, TRVS Ramesh of the DMK won the seat defeating his nearest rival R. Govindasamy of the PMK with a margin of 1,43,983 votes. However, the MP remained largely “inaccessible” in the constituency.

Discontent was also brewing against Mr. Ramesh in the local unit of the DMK after he was accused by the CB-CID in the murder of a worker in his cashew processing unit in 2021. As part of its seat sharing agreement with the Congress, the DMK swapped the seat with the Congress and fielded its candidate for the Arani Lok Sabha constituency. As the Dalits and Vanniyars form the dominant communities here, there is an underlying tension on caste lines, taking a toll on the peace and tranquillity in the constituency.


The proposed acquisition of lands by Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) NLC India Ltd (NLCIL) for its Mines III project is one of the major poll issues in the constituency.

Chemical industries have polluted the place. Locals have been affected with a range of health issues due to rampant contamination of ground water and air pollution. The constituency is also flood-prone and no permanent flood protection measures are in place. The PMK, which is aiming to wrest the seat from the DMK, has launched an intense electioneering campaign and hopes to make the most out of the raging controversy over acquisition of fertile lands by NLCIL for its future projects and industrial pollution.

“The rate of groundwater depletion across Cuddalore has been accelerating with levels falling to 620 feet in several locations. Cuddalore has also been converted into a toxic dump yard with a number of polluting industries in the ‘Red’ category setting up units here. It is indeed mind boggling that NLCIL has planned to acquire over 24,000 acres of fertile land for its future projects. This is highly objectionable,” Mr. Thankar Bachan said.

Mr. Vishnu Prasad claimed that people’s response to his campaign was very good and people will utlimately take the right decision. The Cuddalore port has huge potential to be developed into a major port. Efforts would be taken to ensure that locals who had given lands to the NLCIL were given employment.

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