Improvements to transport, health and sanitation services are among key demands of voters in Papanasam Assembly constituency in the fertile Cauvery belt.
The town located on the main thoroughfare connecting Thanjavur, the district headquarters, with the temple town of Kumbakonam has adequate number of buses plying through it. But such services have failed to address the requirements of the locals, claims S. Saravanan.
“Almost all buses passing through Papanasam are long-distance services in which short distance travelling is not encouraged by the bus crew. Though the bus crew cannot be blamed for this, a plea to set up a TNSTC depot at Papanasam to facilitate operation of town bus services to Thanjavur and Kumbakonam and to link Papanasam with Mannargudi, Orathanadu and Ariyalur is yet to get the attention of the officials,” he points out.
Commuters headed for Mannargudi or Orathanadu have to pass through Thanjavur. Operating bus service via Saliamangalam to Mannargudi and Orathanadu would not only reduce the travelling time but also traffic congestion on the arterial Thanjavur-Kumbakonam Road though the ongoing Thanjavur-Vikravandi Road project, once completed, is expected to reduce the volume of traffic on the Thanjavur-Kumbakonam Road to a considerable extent.
Further, completion of Ramanallur islet bridge project and introduction of public transport facility through the bridge would help people from Papanasam taluk to reach Ariyalur on time to utilise the train services operated during daytime from Madurai and Tiruchi to reach Chennai and vice versa. At present, a bridge between Ramanallur and Azhakiyamanavalam in Ariyalur district has been provided.
Persistent plea to complete construction of the high-level bridge to connect the islet with Karuppur in Thanjavur district is yet to get addressed though the foundation was laid for the ₹55-crore project in 2017, he adds.
Sudden withdrawal of stoppage for Chennai-Tiruchendur Express and Mayiladuthurai-Mysore Express trains at Papanasam recently has added to woes of commuters hailing from the taluk headquarters town. The step-motherly treatment meted out to Papanasam railway station, which contributes more than ₹1.50 crore annually through passenger ticket sale collection has annoyed commuters who relied on the train services for safe and comfortable travel.
A total of 10 passenger trains, including express train services, operated through Papanasam had stoppages at Papanasam. With withdrawal of stoppages for Tiruchendur and Mysore Expresses, commuters headed for Bengaluru and Tiruchendur were forced to travel to Thanjavur by road to catch these trains, he further adds.
“Ironically, stoppages have been provided to these two trains at a few smaller stations in the same section where the annual passenger fare collection is far below the earnings at Papanasam railway station,” says Saravanan, secretary, Train Passengers Association, Papanasam, and member, DRUCC, Tiruchi Region.
Poor sanitation and lack of advanced health care services, community halls and higher education institutions are among the other issues in the constituency.
Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK, which has retained the Papanasam Assembly seat for the past 15 years, has fielded K. Gopinathan, AIADMK Papanasam West Union secretary. Former Agriculture Minister late R. Doraikannu of the party was elected from the constituency for three consecutive terms from 2006.
On the other hand, DMK has allotted the seat to Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and its leader M.H. Jawahirullah is contesting from here on the DMK’s Rising Sun symbol. He is said to be heavily banking on the Congress support base in the constituency as the candidates fielded by the Congress and Tamil Maanila Congress led by late G.K.Moopanar managed to retain this seat from 1977 to 2001.
M. Rengasamy of AMMK, N. Krishnakumar of NTK, K. Shantha of MNM, N. Mehraj Banu of All India Jananayaka Makkal Kazhagam, R. Muthukumar of Annaithu Makkal Puratchi Katchi and six independents are also in the fray at Papanasam.
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