Aiyar visits thriving economic hub in home state

Vol 8, PW 7 (30 Jun 04) People & Policy

Move over Mumbai and Delhi! Indias state-owned oil industry has just discovered the countrys hottest investment destination: Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu, oil minister Mani Shankar Aiyars parliamentary constituency.

On 20th June, it was a lifetime opportunity for four state-owned oil company bosses to impress their new master by showing exemplary concern for some insignificant little towns in Mayiladuthurai. Call it coincidence that ONGCs Subir Raha, Indian Oils MS Ramachandran, Hindustan Petroleums Mahesh Lal and GAILs Proshanto Banerjee were all at hand to arrange simultaneous ceremonies in Mayiladuthurai for the ministers benefit.

Aiyars day started at 9.30am sharp when two choppers landed in Karaikal, a few hundred kilometers away from the destination of Kuthalam. First on his agenda was to distribute largesse to the poor of his constituency and then pay floral tributes to the statue of his late friend and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

IOC spruced up the granite statue but there was so much crowd that it was chaos, an eyewitness tells us. Dressed in a spotless white shirt and veshti (a crisp white wrap-around garment worn by men in southern India) Aiyar basked in a heros welcome.

Later he distributed free cooking gas connections to a few physically disabled inhabitants of Mayiladuthurai, courtesy Indian Oil and its chairman MS Ramachandran. Then, Aiyar drove in his Land Cruiser a few kilometres away to dedicate Hindustan Petroleums Community Kitchen service for the poor residents of Srinivasa Nallur, Tiruvalam and Kumbakonam.

It was as if Santa Claus had visited Kuthalam with a bag full of gifts, said an eyewitness. Next on his schedule was the inauguration of ONGCs Kuthalam Integrated Value Addition Project at the companys Kuthalam Gas Collecting Centre.

After inaugurating the project, Aiyar invited children to take a look at the collection centre and asked ONGC officials to explain gas collection to them. Many a times we have travelled past the GCS and wondered what lay behind its walls, said a nostalgic Aiyar close to tears.