The protests against the erection of high-tension towers in Jalligudde on the outskirts of the city gained momentum on Sunday as the residents were joined by several groups and elected leaders in their demands for underground laying of cable at the region.

The residents were joined by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), nongovernmental organisation Human Rights Federation of India, and local corporators, who demanded that the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) lay the cable underground that does not need land acquisition instead of erecting towers through the land.

KPTCL is setting up 40 towers between Gram Chavadi in South Mangalore Taluk to the upcoming Jeppu sub-station (on the Konaje-Kulashekar line), with eight towers coming up in Jalligudde. The matter is in the Karnataka High Court.

However, as the project has not been stayed, KPTCL had started constructions, leading to the protest.

“The engineers come with police and threaten us not to obstruct the construction,” alleged Dhiraj Naik, a transport owner, on whose land one of the three-meter-wide-base towers is coming up.

The protests, erupted in the past month, have seen KPTCL remove construction material dumped in the area to its shed.

“We do not want compensation. Either the project goes underground like the 110 kV Kavoor line, or it should be built on government land by Netravathi or on the river like they have done on Gurupura River in Thannirbhavi,” demanded Mr. Naik.

The protesters also demanded that the half-constructed towers be removed, and the land restored to original state.

‘That won’t work’

Deepak, Executive Engineer, Major Works Division, Kavoor of KPTCL, had told The Hindu when the matter was reported on March 13, that the cable could not laid underground in the areas because one, the higher cost, and two, any construction in the hitherto undeveloped area close to the high-tension wires, such as underground drainage work, could lead to loss of life.

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