Make this city shine again, Moradabadis tell Azhar

Lucknow, April 16: The people of this town are still star-struck with Mohammed Azharuddin turning Congress candidate and campaigning here. They have huge expectations from India’s former cricket skipper. They want him to put the sheen back on the city known for its brassware.

It is called the ‘Brass City’ , but Moradabad’s famous brass industry is going through a bad time thanks to the global economic downturn. Hundreds of small units have closed down due to lack of orders from abroad. And everyone here wants their MP to articulate their problems in New Delhi and to find solutions.

‘We can’t tell you the kind of bad phase we are going through. This industry, famous for its beautiful brass products, is dying a slow death. No bailout package has been given to this industry,’ rued Satpal Pugla, owner of Globe Metal Industries.

Sitting in his office located on a road connecting Delhi and Moradabad, Pugla claimed that hundreds of manufacturing units have been shut and over 100,000 workers have lost their jobs in the last six months.

According to official figures, Moradabad has nearly 5,000 units involved in the brass business, including 600 export units. These units export merchandise worth nearly Rs.22 billion.

‘We are fortunate that such a famous personality has come to contest election from our constituency. If he wins it would be easy for him compared to other representatives to raise our problems and put them before the government and get them addressed,’ Pugla told IANS.

Akil Ahmad, who owns a manufacturing unit called Ahmad Brass, says he will look for alternative options if the situation does not improve. His complaint is that the industry has been neglected long before recession set in.

‘This business is going through a bad patch mainly because of the neglect by the government. Though the economic recession has come just in the last six months or so, this business has been neglected for long. We get electricity only for 10-12 hours. Running machinery on diesel generators has become non-affordable. Moreover, diesel here is costlier by Rs.5,’ said the 38-year-old.

Nearly 500,000 people are involved in the brass-related business in Moradabad, a town close to Delhi and home to more than 1.7 million people.

Azharuddin, who joined the Congress amid much fanfare Feb 19, said his priority was to prepare a strategy to win the seat for the Congress party. He promises to address people’s problems once he is elected.

‘Right now I am concentrating on winning the election. I will try to solve these problems after I get elected,’ Azharuddin told IANS in the party’s district office, while he worked out the details of public meetings he has to address in the next few days.

Earlier this month, Azhar had told party workers that he had come to Moradabad to stay. He also said he believes in ‘playing a long innings’.

‘Some people tell me that I have already won the election but for me victory is not decided till the last ball of the match,’ he said in fluent Hindi.