Despite being the second largest and second most important city in Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore has received only a step-motherly treatment from the powers that-be at both – centre and state. The city deserves much more considering the region's contribution of more than Rs 10,000 cr to the State's exchequer and that of the Centre by way of direct and indirect taxes, note industry representatives.

Drawing the attention of the contestants to the State Legislative Assembly, the President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore (ICCIC) D Nandakumar highlighted the issues pertaining to this region and sought response from each of the eight candidates, each representing one party.

The meeting was organised by ICCIC and each contestant in the fray was given seven minutes to respond.

While asking them to spell their agenda, the organising committee also appealed to the speakers not to waste time over salutation, singing praise of their leader, highlighting the party's achievement and using the platform to seek votes. In a nut shell, the ICCIC was seeking a focused response.

The candidates were given a copy of the booklet titled “What Kovai City Wants – 10 smart solutions for this future SmartCity”, wherein the top 10 demands was listed.

The booklet, an initiative of the ICCIC, was prepared with the support of the trade and industrial associations and NGOs of Coimbatore.

“Despite being counted as one of the fastest growing top 20 centres of India, Coimbatore has remained neglected for many years. Many states have developed tier II cities other than its capital to spread development such as Kochi and Kozhikode in Kerala, Mysuru and Mangaluru in Karanataka, Pune and Nagur in Maharashtra and so on. In TN, no other city other than Chennai got its due in infrastructure development,” said C R Swaminathan, President, Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC).

He did not fail to add that other than 6 rail over-bridges no other new road, rail or infrastructure projects were implemented over the last three decades.

Roads topped in priority in terms of widening, linkage, truck terminal and subways, establishment of a composite bus-stand on the outskirts, review of the City's Master Plan taking the present and future needs into consideration, implementation of Pilloor Phase III water supply scheme, rapid transport system, restoration of Noyyal and rejuvenation of streams, promoting sports, heritage sites and tourism around this region, strengthening industrial infrastructure and mostly importantly early implementation of airport expansion.

Responding to the ICCIC demand, BJP candidate for Coimbatore South Vanathi Srinivasan said she had incorporated all the demands in her manifesto. “I am here right after the release. The Centre has taken cognisance of the city's growth and awarded several projects. My vision is in taking this region to greater heights.”

CPI (M) candidate C Padmanabhan said he would focus on improving basic amenities such as toilets, health and hygiene.

Mayura S Jayakumar of Congress said he would strive to improve the business climate in this region, while the AIADMK candidate Amman Arjunan claimed that the ruling party had improved the power situation and strengthened the infrastructure.

DMK candidate N Karthik said he would help resolve the issues faced by the MSMEs, while MDMK candidate Anjunraj said he will work for a single window system.

PMK candidate Ashok Jayendar said he will strive to make the city “smart” in the real sense.