From bad roads in the towns to increased wages for tea estate labourers, the demands of Pollachi voters is many
Pollachi parliamentary constituency is at the foothills of the Western Ghats with the Amaravati, Aliyar and Siruvani dams. Dense forests and the thick green cover make this a natural tourist attraction. Many industries like coconut, agriculture, small macro industry, tea abound here.
Pollachi, Kinathukadavu and Valparai in this constituency line the Kerala border. This is an area where Gounders, Chettiars, Arunthathiyars (Dalits) and Naickers form the bulk of the population.
In terms of water management, 7.25 TMC of water from the Aliyar dam in Pollachi is given to Kerala. Through the PAP water scheme, 3.27 lakh acres of farmlands in Coimbatore, Tirupur are irrigated.
With a total voting population of just over 15 lakh voters, the women voters pip the male voters by close to 30,000 votes (Male: 7,36,632, Female: 7,63,777) and 160 transgender votes.
Pollachi LS constituency comprises the Assembly constituencies of Thondamuthur, Kinathukadavu, Pollachi, Valparai, Udumalai and Madathukulam.
Locals in this Parliamentary constituency demand development of Aliyar dam, Monkey falls, Top Slip and other such areas as tourist destinations. There is a demand to make Pollachi a separate district, carving it out of Coimbatore. People here also demand the completion of Anamalaiyar-Nallaar schemes.
Anamalai Tiger Reserve is spread over 958 square kms. Elephants, tigers, panthers and bears live in this reserved forest. There is no dedicated veterinarian to treat wildlife here. Veterinarians are brought in on emergency basis from Coimbatore. A veterinary doctor needs to be appointed permanently to treat wildlife in this area, the voters here demand.
In order to develop coconut cultivation and increase productivity, farmers here demand a detailed research on coconut cultivation apart from stressing the need for setting up a Coconut Board.
In terms of transportation and commute facilities, voters point out that currently the Chennai-Tiruchendur train starts from Kerala, touches Pollachi and then continues. Residents want the train to start from Pollachi itself.
Locals stress that Pollachi and Kinathukadavu which now fall under the Palacode railway division, need to be transferred to Salem or Madurai rail division.
Farmers voice their woes saying that time and again, when tomato prices fall, farmers are seen dumping their produce on the roads. To stop this, industries related to tomatoes need to be set up. Cold storage units need to be set up in order to ensure that the vegetables grown in Pollachi constituency do not rot.
Although the number and density of coconut trees are more in Kerala, production of coconuts is higher in Pollachi, farmers here point out. They demand that ration shops across Tamil Nadu sell coconut oil rather than palm oil. They say that if the government does this, farmers will get better rates for their coconuts. They also want the state government to promote awareness about the health benefits of coconut oil.
In Pollachi and Kinathukadavu, there are over 700 coir production units. Coir rope is made out of this. This is exported from Pollachi to China and other countries. Those farmlands which have been converted into real estate plots need to stop receiving water from the Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) irrigation scheme and this water should instead be diverted to those farmlands that do not have irrigation canals.
The tea workers in Valparai have a long-term demand for increase in daily wages. There has been no relief either from officials or from politicians. Landslides too often take place disrupting roads. Man-animal conflict is on the rise here. Valparai’s residents say they need to travel to Pollachi or Coimbatore for high-quality healthcare and that only basic healthcare facilities are available in their area.
About a 100 kms from Valparai lies Thondamuthur constituency in the western part of Coimbatore district, which is known for its sugarcane, grapes and coconut cultivation. This area through which the Noyyal river flows, is witnessing man-animal conflict, lack of 24-hour healthcare facilities and potable drinking water.
People here credit minister SP Velumani for having introduced roads, parks and a drinking water project under the Smart City Scheme.
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Complaining of infrastructure woes in Pollachi, people here point at an on-going underground drainage project being built at a cost of over Rs 170 crores. As a result of this the roads are dug up and even in areas where the works have been completed roads have not been re-laid or repaired. This has made people angry at the AIADMK government and locals say that unless quick remedial measures are taken it could have an impact on the outcome of the Lok Sabha election results.
Farmers largely complain that the Amaravati and Thirumurthy dams apart from seven other large tanks have not been desilted and therefore saving rain water during the monsoon season has become difficult. Farmers are struggling to cultivate even one crop as a result, the locals say.
Despite Madathukulam having been separated as a Taluk, there is no fire station for the area. There is no court for Madathukulam either, locals point out. Tribes who live in the hills were promised that a bridge would be built for them to cross over to the town during the monsoon months when the hills flood. To date, that promise has not been fulfilled.
There is also no proper refrigeration/cold storage facility available for farmers to ensure that they get good prices for their produce, local residents at Madathukulam emphasised.