Agrarian issues, silk weavers’ woes top the listMay 12th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Issues
ARANI: The newly-formed Arani Parliamentary constituency displays divergent political moods and poll issues that include the backward status of agriculture in Gingee and livelihood problems created by the Special Economic Zone near Cheyyar.
Electors expect the candidates to come up with a practicable agenda to redeem the troubled Arani silk industry from its present woes, sustain a wilting agriculture and protect the livelihood of masses when it comes to establishing large industrial parks such as the Cheyyar SEZ.
Arani comprises Cheyyar, Vandavasi, Arani and Polur assembly segments from Tiruvannamalai district, and Gingee and Mailam (newly created) Assembly segments in Villupuram district. Areas that come under the new constituency were part of Vandavasi, (now defunct) Vellore, Arakkonam and Tindivanam (now defunct) constituencies prior to the delimitation exercise.
The predominantly agricultural constituency faces a range of agrarian issues, including real estate developers eating into cultivable lands and problems plaguing sugar cane farmers due to delays in receiving cutting orders and default in payment by sugar mills.
However, the hike in the Minimum Support Price for paddy has come as a boon for farmers.
The upcoming Shenbagathoppu and Miruganda Nadhi dams are good news for farmers in Polur constituency though their completion has been inordinately delayed.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), apart from providing employment to the rural workforce, has resulted in renovation of many irrigation tanks and channels leading to enhancement of their water-holding capacity.
“Though the scheme could not effectively put a check on rural migration due to failure in providing 100 days employment and Rs.80 wage to all, it has brought in a lot of money into the rural economy, which, in turn, is being utilised for farming activities by people,” says the leader of a pro-Left farmers’ association.
The Arani silk industry is plagued by frequent power cuts and soaring cost of production due to hike in prices of silk yarn and silver zari.
Minimum sustenance wages
Despite the increasing cost of the sari, weavers continue to get only minimum sustenance wages.
Attempts made to modernise the conservative silk industry have failed due to lack of political will.
While the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance terms the setting up of the SEZ near Cheyyar an achievement, the government’s move to acquire an additional 2,300 acres for its expansion has created anger among villagers.
“Acquiring lands of farmers without guaranteed employment or rehabilitation and resettlement measures has jeopardised the livelihood of thousands of farmers. All the ten village panchayats that will lose lands have passed resolutions against acquisition. This region will vote against the Congress candidate” says T.Thamizhiniyan, president, Cheyyar SEZ Farmers Protection Association.
Congress candidate and former TNCC President M.Krishnasswamy promises to acquire land without affecting people.
He promises to bring one more industrial park in the Arani-Vandavasi stretch.
“I will strive to get recognition for Arani silk on par with Kancheepuram silk and explore ways to start a milk product industry in the constituency.”
AIADMK candidate Mukkoor N. Subramaniyan says he will bring many Centrally-sponsored schemes to the constituency.
Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam candidate R.Mohanam vows to set up a computer training centre for youth in every important town, ensure higher MSP for paddy and institute a corporation for the development of Arani silk.
The NREGS, upgradation of the Arcot-Tiruvarur road, which traverses Arani-Polur-Tiruvannamalai, strengthened public health network, State government’s schemes such as rice at Re.1 a kg are expected to help Congress candidate M.Krishnasswamy, father-in-law of former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
Farmers affected by land acquisition for SEZ, weavers affected by frequent power cuts and police firing on protesting NREGS workers in Mailam Assembly segment are issues that may work against him.