The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the State government to hear opinions from people of the Assembly constituencies of Alangulam and Sankarankovil in a plea against any merger of Alangulam taluk with Tenkasi, which was carved out of Tirunelveli district after the State government announced to form a new district headquarters at Tenkasi.
A petition filed by S. Ponnudurai of Alangulam came up for hearing before a division bench of Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice R. Tharani.
The petitioner felt the need that the State government should not go ahead with bifurcation. Though the long-awaited demand of many people of Tirunelveli district for Tenkasi to be headquartered materialised when Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy made an announcement on the formation of Tenkasi as new district during the Assembly session on July 18, 2019, most of the people of Alangulam were not content with such an announcement.
A committee led by Additional Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu was formed with deputation of a special officer to study feasibility and formation of Tenkasi district.
The three-member committee, including the Tirunelveli district collector, announced that the bifurcation would be done only after getting opinions and views of the public.
However, public hearing meetings scheduled on August 9 at Tirunelveli collectorate and on the next day at a college in Courtallam without proper notification in advance, were cancelled. Even after such meetings were convened on August 16 and 17, opinions were not published widely. Moreover, in such namesake meetings, common people did not attend, but only agents of political parties.
Since Alangulam Legislative Assembly comes under Tirunelveli parliamentary constituency, Alangulam should be retained in Tirunelveli district. Further, the petitioner stated that most of the people of Alangulam were dependent on Tirunelveli, which houses a total of 32 colleges and other necessary facilities, and students had been travelling to Tirunelveli, at a distance shorter than Tenkasi, which has only two colleges.
The petitioner also claimed that any formation of new district would take a minimum of 10 years for developments and the Alangulam people should not be made to suffer due to bifurcation. The general public of Alangulam was not given sufficient opportunity to air their grievances before the committee.
Hence, the petitioner sought the bench to direct the respondents to hear grievances of Alangulam people before finalising the bifurcation and formation of Tenkasi district. Counsel on behalf of the government said opinions of public had been heard at meetings conducted in phased manner and decision would be arrived at later on merger of taluks. The bench after hearing, disposed of the petition.