Bhoomi puja at the tank bed triggers road blockade; traffic affected on the Alagarkoil Road

A large number of residents from areas surrounding Kodikulam tank near here staged a road blockade on the arterial Alagarkoil Road on Thursday morning protesting against the construction of a building for Anna University on the tank bed.

They blocked vehicular traffic for over two hours from 8 a.m. and shouted slogans against the move. The police diverted traffic and bus passengers had to disembark from buses and walk to their destinations as buses were not allowed to pass through the spot.

Speaking about the blockade, the residents said that they had made enquiries on seeing preparations being made for a ‘bhoomi puja’ on the tank bed and had found out that it was for a building of Anna University.

“Though we approached the district administration and asked it not to permit the construction on the tank bed, they said that a government order had already been passed approving the construction. So, we decided to protest against the move to encroach on the tank”, said P. Nagajyothi, a resident of the area.

The residents — a majority of them farmers — who live around the sprawling 80-acre tank said that the area was reeling under a severe water crisis and that the tank was their only source of irrigation when it filled up during the monsoon.

While police personnel who had arrived on the spot were able to disperse the protestors and allow vehicular movement, the protestors made their way to the tank bed where the ‘bhoomi puja’ was taking place. After reaching the spot, they shouted slogans and tried talking to the officials and asked them not to construct the building.

The police personnel, however, dispersed the people by telling them that they could opt for legal action and seek a stay on the construction.

About the building coming up in the tank, a senior official from Anna University who was at the spot said that a single multi-storeyed building for the institution would come up at the site.

“We will take over 20 to 30 acres of the land and will make sure that the rest of the tank is maintained well. We have made a provision in our budget for the maintenance of the tank and would carry out construction keeping in mind the maintenance of the waterbody,” he said.

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