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Halol: Industries, heritage site main poll planks
December 05, 2007 11:37 IST
Halol, an industrial city in Panchmahals district, is expected to see the BJP and the Congress tussle over issues ranging from the need for industries in the area to controversies over a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Home to many national and international industries, including a General Motors plant, Halol is around 170 km from Ahmedabad and is currently represented by the BJP's Jayadrathsinh Parmar, who defeated Congress' Udesinh Baria in 2002.
While the BJP is banking on the development mantra of Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images] and also his charisma, the Congress is hoping to cash in on local issues.
The party claims industries have done no good to the locals. Due to nexus with politicians, most of the units recruit people on contracts, sources in the Congress say.
The locals say they are not provided with extra-benefits like provident fund and there is no job security.
Besides, some allege that there has been no hike in their salaries in the past five years even though they have worked more than their stipulated hours.
The Congress is also trying to make an election issue out of Pavagadh-Champaner, which made it to UNESCO's World Heritage Site list two years ago.
The villagers are upset as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is not allowing any construction near the site.
"Local matters are important to us and they will be our poll issues. We are with the villagers even on the World Heritage tag because of which ASI is not allowing renovation of leaking roofs near the particular site," Baria, who has represented the constituency five times consecutively since 1980, said.
But Parmar refutes such claims and says the UNESCO tag is not an issue at all.
"It is only vested interests that are trying to make an issue of Pavagadh. Small union problems have always being there. Last time, BJP wrested the seat from the Congress for the first time. We will win again by a huge margin," he says.
"We have also announced water work schemes for the people and the project for bringing natural gas from Baroda to Halol has been sanctioned," he says.
While industrial development of the constituency continues to be a debatable issue, industry leaders claim "it is not such a big thing".
"The workers union is affiliated to the current BJP MLA. While we don't allow any worker's strike within the industrial estate, outside the estate, there is indeed some problems but no major ones," says Kirit Thakkar, president of Halol Industrial Association.