India

T.N. Assembly polls | Water management remains a key poll issue in Kattumannarkoil


Geographically located at the tail-end of the delta basin, the Kattumannarkoil (Reserved) Assembly constituency is known for its large-scale cultivation of paddy and the Veeranam tank that is key to quenching the drinking water needs of Chennai city.

The economy is agrarian and though surplus water flows from the Kollidam and Paravanar. Poor water management and lack of water for both irrigation and drinking water supply are key issues with the electorate.

The demand for setting up a scent factory and agro-based units to manufacture agro-based products from farm produce has remained a non-starter over the years.

After a multi-cornered battle in 2016, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and the AIADMK are again facing each other, representing their respective coalitions, while the AMMK remains the third force.

M. Sinthanai Selvan of the VCK is the candidate of the DMK-led alliance while the AIADMK has fielded sitting MLA N. Murugamaran who won the seat in the 2011 and 2016 elections. The AMMK has fielded Narayanamoorthy.

While the AIADMK is aiming at a hat-trick, the VCK is aiming to wrest the seat after a gap of 10 years. In the 2019 Parliamentary elections, the VCK had an upper hand in the Assembly segment with party president and candidate Thol. Thirumavalavan polling 31,232 votes defeating his nearest rival M. Chandrakasi of the AIADMK.

In the 2016 Assembly polls, Mr. Thirumavalavan lost the seat by a slender margin of 87 votes. While the AIADMK polled 29.33 % of votes, the VCK polled 29.28 % of votes.

The AIADMK campaigners believe that the agrarian belt is happy with the government declaring the delta region as a Protected Agricultural Zone, and that this will work in their favour.

Declining margin

However, the DMK-led front is banking on the declining victory margin of the AIADMK. The AIADMK’s victory margin which stood at 31,725 in the 2011 elections was reduced to a meagre 87 votes in the 2016 elections.

Despite serving as MLA for two consecutive terms, the constituency presents a picture of neglect and Mr. Murugamaran had failed to address the developmental needs of the region, locals charge.

Mr. Murugamaran’s promise to set up a scent factory for jasmine farmers has not been fulfilled.

According to K.V. Elangeeran, president of Cauvery Delta Farmers Federation, the Veeranam tank, one of the vital sources of water supply to Chennai, remains heavily silted.

He pointed out that poor water management had resulted in nearly 2 tmc of water wasted as run-off annually. The PWD should evolve a strategy and release the surplus water into the irrigation channels.

“Farmers are up in arms against tapping of water from Veeranam tank to meet the drinking water needs of Chennai. The water from Veeranam should be supplied to Chennai only after meeting the irrigation and drinking water requirements of the farmers and locals here,” he said.

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Drainage Board should provide royalty or suitable compensation for water tapped from the tank. The royalty could be fixed at the rate of one paise a litre, he added.



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