Even as the indefinite fast by Vilappil grama panchayat president S. Shobhana Kumari entered the second day and the entire panchayat observed a hartal on Monday, prominent persons entered the scene as mediators to broker peace between the government and the agitated local populace.
Poet and green activist Sugathakumari and senior Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran held a series of discussions during the course of the day and succeeded somewhat in bringing the mercury down a bit by telling the agitated people of Vilappil that the government had agreed not to bring anymore garbage to the treatment plant in the panchayat.
(The present stand-off began after the government successfully moved in the last required piece of equipment for setting up a leachate treatment plant at Vilappil.)
Ms. Sugathakumari, who reached the panchayat with Gandhian P. Gopinathan Nair, told Ms. Shobhana Kumari and the local people that Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali had assured her that the leachate plant in the panchayat would not be operated. Since there was a court order on the issue, the government was unable to give a written assurance to the agitators. She would request the government to inform the Kerala High Court, when it takes up the related case for hearing on October 19, that it would not be possible to operate the plant in the present situation, the poet said.
Although Ms. Sugathakumari requested Ms. Shobhana Kumari to end her fast on the assurance, she declined to do so till the government gave its decision in writing. Later, she and others who gathered at the venue of the stir told Ms. Sugathakumari that they would wait till October 19 to call off their stir. The hartal, which had affected the functioning of educational institutions and hospitals in the panchayat area, would continue till then, they said.
On returning to the city, Ms. Sugathakumari held discussions with Thiruvananthapuram Mayor K. Chandrika and, later, the two called on Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. Later, Ms. Sugathakumari told the media that Mr. Vijayan had promised all support to the efforts to resolve the issue.
When contacted, the Urban Affairs Minister told The Hindu that the government had promised the mediators that garbage would not be taken to Vilappil again. He, however, said there was no assurance on closing down the plant as it was something for the court to decide.