Tamil Nadu

From teacher to Speaker of T.N.

Tirunelveli district, after giving three Speakers to the Tamil Nadu Assembly since 1962, has given the fourth one with Radhapuram MLA M. Appavu, 69, assuming office on Wednesday.

After Chellapandian (1962–1967), P.H. Pandian (1985–1988) and R. Avudaiyappan (2006–2011), Mr. Appavu from the district has been handpicked for the coveted post.

After serving in the Sacred Heart High School (now higher secondary school) at Kaavalkinaru as mathematics and English teacher near Valliyoor, Mr. Appavu voluntarily retired from teaching service in 1995 to enter politics in 1996. He was elected MLA of Radhapuram Assembly segment as the candidate of G.K. Moopanar-led Tamil Maanila Congress. His political journey continued as MLA of the same segment with a hat-trick by him after getting elected in 2001 and 2006 also.

During his tenure as MLA between 2001 and 2006, Mr. Appavu’s aggressive approach put an end to sand mining in the Nambiyar riverbed. When the rampant sand mining badly damaged the check-dam across the river at Mayilaapudur near Valliyoor, Mr. Appavu visited the spot immediately on November 22, 2006 and ensured the reconstruction of the structure within the shortest period.

He also ensured the smooth flow of Hanumanadhi, originating from the Western Ghats beyond Panagudi, by repairing the damaged check-dam at Soththupaarai, situated deep inside the jungles.

His sustained campaign for linking the Tamirabharani–Karumaeniyar– Nambiyar rivers by digging a 73 km-long flood carrier channel from Vellankuzhi near Cheranmahadevi in Tirunelveli district to M.L. Thaeri near Sattankulam in Thoothukudi district was approved by then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

This ambitious river-linking scheme, for which foundation stone was laid by Karunanidhi in 2007 to take the 13,758 mcft surplus water of Tamirabharani to the dry regions, was shelved indefinitely following a change of guard at Fort St. George in 2011. Then Mr. Appavu, after obtaining much-needed information through the Right to Information Act, approached the High Court seeking direction to the government to complete the project as planned for the benefit of the rain-fed farmers of Nanguneri, Thisaiyanvilai and Sattankulam.

After being rapped by the court, the then AIADMK government resumed the third and the fourth phases of the work. The success of his campaign fetched him the title ‘Nathineer Inaippu Naayagan’ (hero of river-linking project).

Though the indefinite legal battle over the 2016 election outcome in the Supreme Court agonised him a lot, Mr. Appavu, after winning the 2021 election on May 2, said: “I’m very much relieved as the Almighty has rendered justice to me… Now, I’m waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the declaration of the result of recounting of votes polled in the 2016 Assembly election.”

Teachers who worked with him describe Mr. Appavu a down-to-earth person. “He would visit us suddenly whenever time permits, enjoy a cup of tea with us and talk about his tenure as a teacher,” says A. Dhanaraj of Kaavalkinaru, who has worked with Mr. Appavu.

Mr. Appavu’s eldest son Alex is a Chennai-based entrepreneur. His younger son Rahul and daughter Priyanka are doctors. His wife Vijaya is a homemaker.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 12:14:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/from-teacher-to-speaker-of-tn/article34546685.ece

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