Food or roads-- what should be the priority?As the population of a State increases, there is always pressure to expand the roads. These pressures obviously take away the precious land of the farmers. This is the story everywhere and when there are attempts to take away everything that is natural in an environment, there will be severe protests.
Tamil Nadu is no exception. When there is a big town that is the wholesale center of thousands of nearby villages, naturally the farmers would flock to the town to get the best prices. The people of the town would also happily give away the higher prices, as they do not have much of an alternative. Salem is one such town.
Some time ago, there was a big attempt to bring a new Highway from Salem to the metro of Chennai, a neat seven hours by car or by bus. There is already a good highway and there is absolutely no need for an eight-lane Highway. The Central and State Governments wanted this desperately. The Opposition party is likely to put this into cold storage, as the party is likely to raise this issue in the current election.
We need precious land that gives us our food. We cannot go on taking away our precious land. The lorries that carry goods to Chennai can use the existing facility. We cannot neglect agriculture. Unless we produce maximum quantities of fruits and vegetables, we cannot sustain the current prices. For example, apples are never grown in the State of Tamil Nadu. They come from the North. The present prices are anywhere between Rs.250 to Rs.350 in Bangalore and Chennai and between Rs.200 to Rs.250/-. If huge industries corner away all lands or the lands are eaten up to create a new Capital like what Mr. Naidu did in AP, we will be left with nothing to eat. If the lands go, apples will cost us Rs.500 per kg.
So, we first need food. We can do without an eight-lane highway. After all, the fastest train called Kovai express takes just five hours to reach Salem. The answer is more of such trains. And if we have good trains, people will not use cars. The lorries can ply only during nighttime. What is even more shocking is that Salem can also be reached via Vellore. This route has a fabulous Highway, via Krishnagiri. The Supreme Court seems to have cleared this project, but Mr. Stalin is likely to give it a decent burial. He should indeed do just that.