Muthuvel Karunanidhi ( 1924-2018) was an Indian writer and politician who served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu five terms between 1969 and 2011. He was popularly referred to as “Kalaignar” for his contributions to Tamil literature.
When Dr. Karunanidhi came to power in 1971, the Nilgiris was facing multiple challenges in terms of amenities and infrastructure in the wake of surging tourist traffic. The situation would have got out of hand but for the series of far reaching decisions taken by the DMK government. The most significant and timely move, in 1971, was the supply of drinking water for the town from the Parsons Valley reservoir about 15 kms away. The government takeover of private bus transport in the district brought roads and transport to remote hilly hamlets besides providing jobs to the local people. In 1968 and, again in 1974, the DMK saved the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from being nearly terminated. Tourism promotion in the district was upgraded by bringing it under a tourism corporation. The construction of a professional indoor stadium brought many a national games to the town. Later, the opening of a Farmers’ Market came as a boon to local small farmers. Dr. Karunanidhi also granted a free land to establish the Young Badaga Association as a cultural symbol of the dominant indigenous community.
In 2000, when the tea crisis in the Nilgiris was at its peak, Dr. Karunanidhi’s government invited the Save Nilgiris Campaign to hold a stakeholders meeting to diffuse the crisis. The meeting paved the way for stabilizing the beleaguered tea industry.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre