The Tiruttani Assembly constituency derives its growth and development from its position as a pilgrimage centre, from textile industry, agriculture and its proximity to Andhra Pradesh.
Ahead of the Assembly election this year, the important civic issues that have dominated the minds of the electors include the loss of livelihood of handloom and powerloom workers, pollution of the Nandiyar and the Kosasthalaiyar, the decline in farm productivity because of pollution, poor transport connectivity and inadequate water supply.
With local DMK workers trying to persuade party president M.K. Stalin to contest from the pilgrimage centre, the electors are waiting to see how things will pan out.
S. Logan, a farmer, said farmers are losing revenue because of the government’s failure to establish a mandi with infrastructure to procure and store grain. “Farmers in Tiruttani lose at least ₹300, compared with those in Tiruvarur, during the sale of an 82 kg bag of ponni variety of paddy,” he said.
With the reduction in productivity, a tussle has taken place between farmers and weavers over the pollution of waterbodies that are major sources of irrigation. “We have requested the government to develop treatment plants near rivers and lakes,” said P. Muthappa, a resident of Tiruttani. For instance, agriculture has been affected near the Pandaravedu lake owing to pollution.
N. Selvam, a resident of Maddur, wants the government to develop a textile park.
“We want government institutions to purchase textile goods. We want subsidy for procurement of raw materials for the powerlooms. Over 25 villages have powerlooms. The industry has declined owing to the failure of cooperative societies and the reluctance of officials to support us,” said M. Ravi, a weaving industry representative.
“Over 25 villages, such as Maddur near Tiruttani, are among the few areas that have a climate suitable for the cotton textile industry. Issues such as the GST have affected the industry. I had six powerlooms. I sold them all,” said P.G. Panchatcharam, a resident.
Many of the weavers depend on alternate jobs in neighbouring cities, with more than 10,000 residents taking the bus to Chennai every day. But they do not have adequate transport facilities.
The residents have requested additional trains and a subway beneath the rail line dividing the eastern and western parts of Tiruttani, near the travellers’ bungalow. Residents have also demanded better public toilets, healthcare facilities and schools.
The loss of livelihood in most of the 105 villages in the constituency has been significant during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an increase in the number of residents leaving their villages in pursuit of alternative employment.
“Our relatives in Andhra Pradesh, who are a few kilometres away, have received ₹18,000 during the pandemic. We demand a similar measure. We do not get adequate wages under the scheme that guarantees 100 days of employment. We got less than 30 days this year,” said a woman, who did not wish to be named.
AIADMK MLA P.M. Narasimhan said that over 70% of the work on the water supply scheme for Tiruttani had been completed at an estimated cost of ₹115 crore. “It involves laying of pipelines to a stretch of 64 km,” he said. “The bypass will be completed at an estimated cost of ₹38 crore. The tender will be finalised shortly for the ₹20 crore bus stand. Stormwater drains will be completed at an estimated cost of ₹20 crore. Work on a government arts college at ₹9 crore and a hospital building at ₹9 crore have been completed,” he says.
DMK leader M. Boopathi said 15 villages had no bus connectivity. “Residents have to walk 5 km to get a bus to the nearest town. Residents have many demands. Our party established a lead of 85,000 votes in the Assembly segment in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Our leader M.K. Stalin is expected to win by 1.5 lakh votes if he decides to contest from Tiruttani,” he said.