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Vellore: proposed dam across Palar tops the agenda

P.V.V. Murthi

People fear Andhra Pradesh move will deprive district of water

VELLORE . In the last two elections, the pollution of the Palar by industrial effluents over the past three decades, the closure of tanneries on Supreme Court orders for failing to set up effluent treatment plants and consequent unemployment were the major issues.

But now, the primary concern among the people is the threat on account of the Andhra Pradesh Government move to construct a dam across the river in the Kuppam area.

Wells galore

With no surface flow in the Palar (unless there is floods), farmers have invested heavily on irrigations wells — there are close to three lakh on the river basin.

Tanneries too have borewells in the basin, not to mention the water headworks on the Palar, which serve the drinking water needs of several municipalities and panchayats in the district. Even neighbouring districts tap the Palar water for drinking water schemes.

With the Palar running through a maximum of 222 km in Vellore district, out of a total length of 348 km, people fear that the Andhra Pradesh move would permanently deprive the Vellore district of the river water.

This issue is sure to prove to be an embarrassment to the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in the coming elections, as the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre has not been able to persuade the Congress-ruled State of Andhra Pradesh to give up the proposal.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is facing the DMK in four constituencies — Katpadi, Ranipet, Pernambut and Natrampalli. The AIADMK is pitted against the Pattali Makkal Katchi in two — Anaicut and Arcot, while the party faces the Congress in Sholinghur, the Communist Party of India (Marxists) in Gudiyatham and the DMK-backed Puratchi Bharatam in Arakkonam.

The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is pitted against the Congress in Vellore, and the PMK in Tirupattur. The Indian Union Muslim League, part of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance, will take on the Indian National League of the AIADMK front in Vaniyambadi in Vellore district.

Agriculture Minister K. Pandurangan (AIADMK) is seeking re-election from Anaicut, where he faces Varalakshmi of the PMK. In Katpadi, Principal Secretary of the DMK and former Minister, Durai Murugan, will contest against AIADMK's P. Narayanan, chairman of Katpadi Panchayat Union.

Keen tussles are also expected in Ranipet, where former MLA, R. Gandhi, will take on R.Thamizharasan (AIADMK), a trade union leader and son of late S. Raghavanandam, a former Minister. In Vellore, three-time MLA, C. Gnanasekharan (Congress) is facing N. Subramani (MDMK). At Tirupattur, sitting MLA, T.K. Raja (PMK), is facing K.C. Azhagiri of the MDMK. The rebellion posed by G.G. Ravi of Congress, who is contesting as an Independent, against Mr. Gnanasekharan has heightened the interest among poll-watchers here.

A keen contest is also on the cards in Gudiyatham, where there was opposition among the CPI (M) cadres to the candidature of G. Latha, who is facing J.K.N. Palani of the AIADMK.

The alliance arithmetic has also worked here and both the main fronts are straining their nerves to wrest control of the district.

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