The Mullaperiyar agitation has reached a crucial stage and will continue till a final solution to the dam issue is found, C.P. Roy, chairman of the Mullaperiyar Agitation Council, said at Upputhara, near here, on Thursday.

At a public rally organised in connection with the completion of the fifth year of the formation of the council, Mr. Roy said that there was a concerted move to depict the issue as a water dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The council was concerned only about the threat raised by the century-old dam to the people living downstream. The massive support given to the agitation, cutting across party and sectarian interests, had endorsed the cause for which the council stood.

He said the mere fact that a relay hunger strike at the venue at Karuntharuvi Chappathu reached the 1,530th day on Thursday was a pointer towards the support of the people. The people living on either side of the Periyar at Vallakkadavu, Vandiperiyar, Mlamala, Kauntharuvi Chappathu Upputhara and Ayyappancoil gave the energy for the strike. The agitation had created a history of sorts, being the longest peaceful relay hunger strike in the State.

It was not just the people living in the district but an entire society without district boundaries supported, and participated in, the strike, giving it a national significance in the history of people's agitations. It was not a revolt against any authority; it was a people's agitation for a right enshrined in the Constitution —the right to live.

Welcoming the formation of a high-power expert committee by the Supreme Court to look into the issue, he said it was a right move and people had faith in the panel. The massive support given by the Tamil people living in the area was a direct reply to the chauvinistic elements that divided people on sectarian lines.

He said the agitation had not been confined to Karuntharuvi Chappathu but had been extended to other towns. The agitation never had raised passion and it stood for a peaceful solution.

Joy Nirappel, former chairman of the council, was given a reception.

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