: This is the second time in the history of Idukki that a public agitation is turning into a mass movement cutting across party, caste, or creed. On June 6, 1961, A.K. Gopalan, the then Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, led an indefinite fast at Amaravathy, near Kumily, against the displacement of nearly 1,600 people from Ayyappancoil when their land was taken over for the Idukki hydro-electric project. The displaced people were living in pathetic conditions in extreme cold climate, often going without food. The agitation led by Gopalan was supported by the people, regardless of political or caste divide. Sensing the mood, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru asked the then Kerala Chief Minister Pattom A. Thanu Pillai to convene an all-party meet to solve the issue. Ayyappancoil is six kilometres from here.

On Monday, at Karinkulam Chappathu, it was virtually a mass revolt for decommissioning the dam as a fear psychosis had gripped the people in the wake of recurring tremors and the overflowing Mullaperiyar dam. All those who addressed the gathering were unanimous in their view that the Mullaperiyar agitation was not limited to a particular place. Thousands of people thronged here raising slogans and political parties and religious organisations were united in their support to the people.

“How can those from Kaintharuvi Chappathu, Vandiperiyar or Upputhara live in fear throughout their lives, asked Ambazhakan, a member of the central committee of the Mullaperiyar Agitation Council. The agitation waged by the council completed 1,800 days last week. M.J. Joseph, a resident of Kattappana who reached here, said he had come to extend support to the strike. “It cannot fail and everyone wants an immediate solution. So I joined a group and reached here.  Muthuswami, an estate worker here, said though he belonged to Cumbam in Tamil Nadu, he has had been living here for the past 30 years as a worker. He said since Kerala had promised water to Tamil Nadu, there was no need for any apprehension. The only solution is that the age-old dam should be demolished and it should not be delayed. Hima Rajan said she supported the agitation as she has been living in fear. She said not only the lives of influential persons but those of the poor voiceless should also be considered.

Atul K. Vijayan, a student, said the Mullaperiyar agitation was for a genuine cause as he believed that the dam was too weak and should be decommissioned.

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