Women voters flaunt their ID cards at the S-Type polling booth in Adityapur on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Adityapur and Saranda may not recognise themselves from the same planet, but the state’s largest industrial belt that’s battling slump and Asia’s biggest sal reserve limping back to normalcy after Maoist rule belong to the same Singhbhum Lok Sabha seat.
Like Saranda, where villagers want to live without red fear, Adityapur wants to hold its head high against pink slips.
But in Adityapur, over a dozen small and medium enterprises downed shutters during the last two years. Moreover, almost all units had curtailed shifts.
Small wonder, Adityapur’s industrial workers turned up to vote in large numbers. Their verdict seemed clear.
“We want change as present government at the Centre failed to deliver as far as Adityapur industrial area’s development is concerned. Adityapur industrial area is a victim of neglect. Some 1,200 small, medium and large scale industries, mostly ancillary units of Tata Motors are bleeding,” said R.K. Raman, a voter at the S-Type polling centre and manager at an Adityapur-based Tata Motors ancillary unit.
An industrial worker, Subhas Maity, who came to vote with six family members at the New Colony Madhya Vidyalaya poll station, also in Adityapur, said: “Hum logon ke rozi-roti ka sawal hai. Hamein chahiye aisi sarkar jo rakhe iss industrial area ka khyal. (It’s a matter of our bread and butter. We want a government that works for the betterment of this industrial area).”
“The development of Adityapur industrial area does not figure in manifestos of any political party contesting Lok Sabha polls. It is very surprising. There are several vital issues that are pending, including creation of land banks. Moreover, except for a few showrooms of commercial vehicles, the industrial area failed to attract major investment. No new industrial projects has come up in the last three years or so,” said a senior functionary of Adityapur Small Industries Association (ASIA), while exercising his vote at a polling station at Subernarekha office building.
A voter and an official of the ambitious Adityapur Auto Cluster Limited (AACL), requesting anonymity, rued the “Centre’s lackadaisical approach” that caused the Rs 65-crore auto cluster project to hang fire.
“The hazardous waste management facility, an important component of the cluster project, is yet to get a nod from the Centre. The application is pending for about two years,” said the official.
Throwing caution to the winds, he said: “The project might make headway once a new government is formed at the Centre. I am convinced that the new government under Narendra Modi will do good for industry sector and Adityapur industrial area will finally reap its benefits.”
Perhaps the change mantra spurred the early vote rush. Long queues of voters could be seen at Adityapur’s polling stations. In two hours since 7am when polling begun, voter turnout crossed 25 per cent in many.