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Another intense duel on the cards

For long fishermen issues in the region have been neglected

The AIADMK and the Congress are locking horns yet again in the Aranthangi Assembly constituency in Pudukottai district, making it almost a repeat of the 2016 contest.

The only change is the candidate fielded by the AIADMK, while the Congress which is an ally of the DMK-led secular front has retained the contestant who lost the battle on the previous occasion.

The AIADMK has brought back former MLA M. Rajanayagam, who won from the same constituency in the 2011 polls, to taken on the Congress candidate T. Ramachandran, son of six-time MLA from the same constituency and former Union Minister Su. Thirunavukkarasar.

Situated in the tail-end of Pudukottai district, the Aranthangi Assembly segment is largely a dry region where farming and fishing activities are the predominant occupation of the people. Encompassing the three taluks of Aranthangi, Avudaiyarkoil and Manamelkudi, the Aranthangi constituency is endowed with a long coastline comprising several coastal villages in its limits.

There is hardly any industry in the constituency which has not witnessed any major development in the past decade, complain voters. Despite being one of the major towns in Pudukottai district, Aranthangi is yet to have an underground drainage system in place which has been a long pending demand. Although plans were conceived, the project is yet to take off.

Fisherfolk in the coastal areas complain that they have to buy potable drinking water as the water supplied by the local body could only be used for cleaning utensils and washing clothes.

“Notwithstanding repeated representations from the fisherfolk to carry out repair works in the Kottaipattinam fishing harbour which had suffered damage, concrete steps are yet to be taken by the Fisheries Department,” says Asan Mohideen, president of the Kottaipattinam Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association. Although officials inspected the harbour and kept assuring that the fishermen’s representation would be looked into no tangible work to address the problem has been carried, says Mr. Asan Mohideen.

The Jagadapattinam fishing harbour had also suffered damages which were yet to be rectified despite representations having been given, says T. Mohan, vice president of the Visai Padagu Sangam, Jagadapattinam. “Just as loans were being given to farmers, fishermen should also be given loans to repair their boats, nets and other paraphernalia to enable them carry out fishing,” suggests Mr. Mohan pointing out that the fisheries sector contributes substantially to foreign exchange earnings.

Besides mechanised boat fishermen, there are also substantial numbers of country boat fishermen residing in the coastal areas in this constituency. The government could also think of opening a separate bank for fishermen in the coastal area to give them loans and address their other financial needs in view of the fact that the fisheries sector contributes hugely to foreign exchange earnings, suggests Mr. Mohan.

Fishermen have also been seeking an increase in the allocation of subsidised diesel per month from 1,800 litres to 3,000 litres in view of the sharp hike in the price of fuel. The Aranthangi constituency could really boast of visible development if the elected representatives and the government brings in industries that would generate employment directly and indirectly. It is in this backdrop that the constituency is bracing up for the next poll show down on April 6.

Although a section of DMK men took to the streets in Aranthangi recently urging the party leadership that the seat should not be allotted to an alliance partner this time, the party high command decided to allocate it to the Congress again.

The Congress candidate Ramachandran who lost to the AIADMK candidate by a slender margin in 2016 is heavily banking on the support of the DMK and the perceived anti-incumbency, say locals. With the AIADMK candidate Mr. Rajanayagam posing a tough challenge, the constituency is witnessing an intense duel.

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