A highly industrialised Assembly segment in Tiruchi district, Tiruverumbur is in the grip of economic recession and voter discontent.
A large number of small and medium industries, all ancillary units of the public sector major Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, have turned sick due to a variety of reasons in recent years. The pandemic has only aggravated the problems for the industry, which once staked claim to the status of being the steel fabrication capital of the country.
The rapid urbanisation and commercial development in the constituency were largely due to the growth BHEL and MSMEs. But with the industries stagnating, a large number of skilled and semi-skilled workers have been rendered jobless in the constituency. The MSMEs are looking for more government support to emerge out of the red. And so are the electorate to resolve some of their long-felt grievances.
A substantial part of the constituency is spread over the five newly added wards of the Tiruchi Corporation, following the merger of the Tiruverumbur and a handful of panchayats with the civic body in 2011. Residents have a slew of complaints over the lack of amenities and point out that they have been shelling out higher levies, by way of property tax, water charges and charges for the upcoming sewer line but have seen little improvement in civic amenities. A new drinking water scheme under execution to supply Cauvery water to the five wards is dragging on for years and the underground sewer line extension works have left interior roads bruised and battered.
But topping the list of the voter discontent is the row over the laying of service lanes, between Palpannai and Thuvakudi on the Tiruchi-Thanjavur Highway. Just when the issue seems to have been settled, following court intervention leading to the commencement of land acquisition process, traders and property owners who face displacement have upped the ante demanding that an elevated corridor be built instead so as to avoid acquiring their lands for the service lanes. The National Highways Authority of India had dropped its original plan to building service lanes, while developing the highway as a four-lane one over a decade back, owing to opposition from traders then.
This had led to a series of agitations by the Federation for Retrieval of Tiruchi-Palpannai-Thuvakudi Service Roads, an umbrella organisation of residents’ associations lobbying for the construction of service lanes, over the years.
In recent days, traders too have resorted to agitations. “We are now representing our case to the political parties, suggesting the construction of an elevated corridor as an alternative, and requesting them to include it in their manifestos,” said S. Raghunathan, secretary, Tiruchi-Thanjai NH67 Salai Virivakka Panikalal Bathikapaduvor Kootammaippu.
However, residents are sceptical of the suggestion and contend that greater good should prevail. “They could have made the suggestion 10 years back. To come up with the suggestion now, after all the people’s struggle, appears only to be an attempt to scuttle the project (to build service lanes),” observed R. Venkataraman, Secretary, New Town, Muthu Nagar Integrated Residents Welfare Association.
Residents also demand proper storm water drains, expediting the drinking water supply and underground drainage schemes and repairs to cross roads dug up for laying sewer pipes. Reclamation of the Ariyamangalam garbage dump remains another long-pending demand. A bio-mining project taken up by the civic body is yet to be completed.
Down the years, the constituency has been favourite turf for the DMK, which has won here six times since 1967. The AIADMK has won thrice, the Congress, the DMDK and the CPI (M) veteran late Pappa Umanath have emerged victorious once each.
In 2016, Mahesh Poyyamozhi, grandson of the late Anbil Dharmalingam, a yesteryear stalwart of DMK, emerged victorious in the constituency defeating D. Kalaiselvan of the AIADMK. And as some residents aver, any candidate who gets elected from here would have its hands full and would need considerable skill and articulation to get the issues resolved.