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Protesters arrested for stalling survey

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FOR A CAUSE: Manorama Madhwaraj, MP, speaking to Assistant Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar before being arrested at Tenka Yermal in Udupi district on Friday.
FOR A CAUSE: Manorama Madhwaraj, MP, speaking to Assistant Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar before being arrested at Tenka Yermal in Udupi district on Friday.

Staff Correspondent

Section 144 clamped on parts of five villages till November 21 to facilitate thermal plant survey work

  • Manorama Madhwaraj and Lalaji Mendan among those arrested
  • Congress and other groups slam Government

    Tenka Yermal (Udupi District): As many as 94 people, including Manorama Madhwaraj, MP; Lalaji Mendan, MLA; Pramod Madhwaraj, president of the Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahajana Sangha; and Gangadhar Suvarna, chairman of the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada Fish Marketing Federation, were arrested here for protesting against the survey for the proposed 1,015-MW coal-based Nagarjuna thermal power plant. All those arrested were released later.

    The district administration has clamped Section 144 of the Cr.PC in parts of five villages Yellur, Mudrangady, Palimar, Tenka Yermal and Bada Yermal to facilitate the survey. The prohibitory orders will be in force till 6 p.m. on November 21.

    The police resorted to lathi-charge at Mudrangady and the situation was tense there for some time.

    Ms. Madhwaraj along with about 300 persons, including environmentalists, sat on a dharna at Tenka Yermal amidst heavy police presence. They were shouting slogans against the Nagarjuna Power Corporation Ltd (NPCL).

    Three platoons of Karnataka State Reserve Police and a Rapid Intervention Vehicle were pressed into service.

    When the police officials informed Ms. Madhwaraj that Section 144 had been imposed, she continued the protest stating that the people of the region did not want the coal-based plant for environmental reasons.

    After giving repeated warnings about Section 144 being in force, the police arrested the protesters. They were taken to Udupi Town Hall, which was converted into a temporary jail.

    The Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao told presspersons that Ms. Madhwaraj and others were been arrested under the Karnataka Police Act for violating Section 144.

    However, the survey workbegan after the protesters were arrested.

    `Promise not kept'

    Addressing presspersons in Udupi, Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji of Pejawar Math said that Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had not kept his promise of not allowing the survey work to start before setting up an expert committee.

    The Chief Minister had said that he would appoint an expert committee, comprising environmentalists and representatives of the Government and the company, to study the effects of the plant, the seer said.

    The seer had spoke to the Chief Minister about the issue over the telephone on Thursday evening. He criticised the Government for arresting the protesters Tenka Yermal.

    Arrests criticised

    The Udupi district unit of Congress party and various other organisations on Friday slammed the State Government and the District Administration for arresting those protesting against the survey work of the proposed plant.

    Addressing presspersons here, the president of Udupi District Congress Committee, M.A. Gafoor said that the survey works should be stopped immediately. The Congress party would support the environmental groups in their future agitation programmes, he said. The arrest of Ms. Madhwaraj and Mr. Mendan only showed the uncivilised behaviour of the Government, he added.

    U.R. Sabhapathy, former MLA, said that the BJP was following a dual policy on the issue. While Minister for Medical Education V.S. Acharya supported the project, Ms. Madhwaraj opposed it. The position of the BJP on the issue was confusing, he said.

    In a press release issued here, the convener of the Nagarjuna Vidyut Sthavara Virodhi Samiti, Somanath Nayak said Friday's events showed that the State Government had no faith in democratic values.

    `Bandh'

    President of Nandikur Janajagriti Samiti, Lakshman Shetty said that fishing activities would be stopped on Saturday at the Malpe Fisheries Harbour to protest against the arrest of the Ms. Madhwaraj and Mr. Mendan. If the survey work was not stopped at Yellur and surrounding villages on Saturday, the protesters would gherao the site office of the NPCL at Yellur, he said.

    Kaup Assembly constituency, where the survey work is going on, would observe a `bandh' on Saturday. This decision was taken at an all-party meeting, Mr. Shetty said.

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