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Mullaperiyar stir peaceful in State

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SHOW OF PROTEST: Fr. Joy Nirappel, chairman of the joint action council spearheading the stir for a new Mullaperiyar dam, addressing the agitators at Vallakkadavu in Idukki district on Monday.
SHOW OF PROTEST: Fr. Joy Nirappel, chairman of the joint action council spearheading the stir for a new Mullaperiyar dam, addressing the agitators at Vallakkadavu in Idukki district on Monday.

Staff Reporter

Agitators threaten to divert reservoir waters

KUMILY: An agitation organised at Vandiperiyar on Monday by various organisations demanding construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar in place of the century-old structure passed off peacefully.

The Mullaperiyar Samara Samithy, Mullaperiyar Jeevan Raksha Samithy and Vandiperiyar Powra Samithy, which led the agitation, threatened to divert the waters of Mullaperiyar reservoir by digging a canal near the Baby Dam. But the agitators were not allowed to enter the area by the police who stopped them nearly 2 km away from Vallakkadavu check-post.

Nearly 2,500 persons from Upputhara, Vallakkadavu, Vandiperiyar, Mlamalai and Chappath area assembled at Vandiperiyar and then marched to Vallakkadavu. They were stopped at HPC Junction by the police who were deployed in full force.

The agitators who sat in protest at the junction were addressed by Fr. Joy Nirappel, chairman of the joint action council. He said the tone and tenor of the next phase of agitation would be decided by the outcome of the Ministerial level talks between Kerala and Tamil Nadu this month. If the talks failed, they would intensify their agitation. They would be satisfied by nothing less than dismantling of the Baby Dam, he said.

Samarasamithy convener Sabu Vengavelil, Fr. Pius Thekkevayalil and others also spoke on the occasion. The agitators dispersed peacefully after the sit-in.

The district administration had mobilised forces in full strength with men being drafted from neighbouring districts. The Armed Reserve Police were also put in place. District Collector A.J. Rajan and Superintendent of Police K.K. Chellappan were present to directly over see the operations.

Stir at Schencotta

Staff Reporter writes from Kollam: Activists of four Tamil Nadu-based organisations from five districts made an attempt to block the Kollam-Thirumangalam National Highway at Schencotta in the morning. The demonstrators were arrested and removed by a police team led by Tirunelveli Superintendent of Police Chenthamara Kannan. More than fifty activists, including Tamizhaka Desiya Iyakkam general secretary Kuinji Kavilan, were arrested. The demonstrators were from the districts of Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Virudhunagar and Tuticorin. The development led to tension on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border at Aryankavu. A strong team of the Kerala Police took position at Aryankavu. No untoward incidents were reported.

After holding a public meeting at the Schencotta taluk office junction from 9.30 a.m., the demonstrators marched to the Schencotta bus stand junction at 11.30 a.m. to block the National Highway so as to prevent the movement of vehicles to Kerala. The police intervened in five minutes and removed the demonstrators. As a result, there was no disruption of traffic. The demonstrators raised slogans against the Kerala Government, Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony, and Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan. The Tamil Nadu police informed presspersons that there was specific direction from the Tamil Nadu Government that demonstrators should not block the National Highways.

Convention

Staff Reporter writes from Palakkad:

The Bharathappuzha Protection Committee will organise a `Save Mullaperiyar' convention in association with other environmental, cultural and social organisations at the Palakkad Service Co-operative Bank Conference Hall here on Friday.

Bharathappuzha Protection Committee secretary Indanur Gopi said a preliminary examination by the Dam Protection Committee recently found the century-old dam weak. If the dam collapsed, the lives of 35 lakh people would be in danger. So, the water level of dam should not be raised to 142 feet from 136 feet.He said the Kerala Government and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had taken a firm stand against the threat from Tamil Nadu Government which wanted to raise the water level to 142 feet. The dam, constructed with rubble and lime `surkhi,' was commissioned in 1895 and over the years, a large quantity of lime was leached away making the structure weak. C.M. Joy, secretary, Kerala River Protection Committee, would inaugurate the convention

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