Elections 2021

Ranipet: Unemployment, water scarcity turn into a royal pain

TE Raja Simhan Ranipet | Updated on March 27, 2021

The SIPCOT industrial estate in Ranipet, Tamil Nadu   -  BIJOY GHOSH

It was quite an unusual scene in the industrial town of Ranipet. At 11 am, there was hardly any large movement of people in the famous and always busy Ranipet bus stand junction. It was the same at Muthukadai junction and near BHEL. While Covid-19 is said to be one of the major reasons for this, growing unemployment in the town leading to poor spending has also said to have contributed t o the dismal scenario.

 

The presence of around 100 leather units and BHEL are the two the major lifeline in this constituency in Vellore district. However, both seem to be having problems, creating a domino effect, say local residents.

“On a normal day, I won’t have time to sit and chat with you like this. There will always be customers in the shop. However, now, I am waiting for customers,” said Javed of the famous Elahi Tea Stall. Due to closure of many leather units and slowdown at BHEL, there is major unemployment problem, he adds.

Along with unemployment, issues such as poor water supply, groundwater contamination due to water let out by leather tanneries and lack of sewage facilities are plaguing the constituency.

Auto driver Samson outside the BHEL plant says that since the plant was not doing well, many of the ancillary units are badly affected, and even closed. This has in turn led to unemployment in the region.

Agreeing with Samson, Elango, who owns a small fabrication unit, says his unit is idle for many days. “It is the smaller units that are hurt badly,” he adds.

Industrial activity

A drive through the quiet SIPCOT industrial estate also gives the impression that industrial activity is not in full swing. “This is unlike of an industrial estate,” says Jayapal, who lives near the estate. The lack of activity at the leather units is also a cause of worry. There are nearly 100 finished leather units of which nearly half are closed or working with very limited workers, says Jalalaudhin, a worker at a leather unit. “Things are really bad here. While the bigger units have managed to survive, the smaller ones are suffering. The government should step in immediately and help us,” he adds.

Polluted water

While leather units are facing trouble, they are also causing trouble by letting out polluted water into the Palar river, which is a major source of water for the region, say residents. “The quality of water is pathetic. While there is no ground water, the water supplied from Palar is not consumable,” says Ramaswamy, a construction worker.

Says Samson, the water at the small lake inside Ranipet is badly polluted. “Kids are bathing in the polluted water leading to skin problems,” he said.

Sitting MLA R Gandhi in the 2016 election won by a whisker beating C Eleumalai of the AIADMK. However, this time it is not going to be a cake walk for him considering that Sukumar (of AIADMK) is well known in the constituency. Since the PMK is part of the AIADMK alliance, the presence of a large Vanniyar base in the constituency could possibly help Sukumar. However, the large section of the minority voters could back Gandhi, making it a tight contest.

Sudhakar, a resident, says that candidates of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (G Veeramani) and Makkal Needhi Maiyam (Adam Basha) could act as spoilers for both Gandhi and Sukumar, leading to a close contest in the constituency, which has nearly 2.47 lakh voters.

Published on March 26, 2021

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