Farmers demand protection for Mullaperiyar dam

Farmers staging a demonstration at Goodalur in Theni district on Sunday. — Photo: G. Karthikeyan  

Members belonging to various farmers' associations and the local people in Cumbum and Goodalur took out massive rallies and staged demonstrations on the Mullaperiyar dam issue here on Sunday. A total of 20,000 farmers thronged Goodalur town and staged a demonstration on Theni-Kumili highway demanding protection for the dam and increase in water level to 142 feet. The protesters built a bier for Kerala Chief Minister Ooman Chandy and former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandhan and took out a mock funeral procession. They also performed funeral rituals by breaking water pots to show their indignation. The demonstration commenced at 9.30 a.m. and ended at 11.30 a.m. Though the demonstration was a peaceful one, traffic was completely blocked for more than two and half hours on Theni-Kumili Highway. Shops remained closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the 11th consecutive day in Goodalur. Shops opened only after 5 p.m. and the TNSTC extended their services up to Lower Camp on Sunday.

Around 15,000 farmers, who have lands under ayacut of the 18th channel in Pannaipuram, Kombai, Mallingapuram and nearby villages took out a massive procession in Cumbum town. The police stopped them at Sri Adhi Chunchanagiri College for Women and allowed to stage a demonstration.

The farmers had come in 600 bikes, 400 vans and cars and 10 lorries. Effigies were also burnt by the protesters. Farmers in Uthamapalayam and Thevaram also took out similar rallies which ended at Cumbum.

After a long break, Tamil estate workers and Sabarimala pilgrims came on foot to Lower Camp crossing Kumili check post to board the bus. Pilgrims said that the situation was calm in Kumili. With no bus to Kumili, many pilgrims ended their ‘viratham' at Sri Iyyappan Temple at Thamanampatti village near the Lower Camp.

“In this tense situation, we did not want to go to Sabarimala”, they said.

Protests also spread to Dindigul and members of 13 farm produce commission agents associations, including vegetable, tomato, raw banana, banana leaves, goat growers associations and traders associations closed their ‘mandis' and shops and observed fast in Batlagundu. Farmers at Kannuranpatti village also observed a fast to show their support to the Mullaperiyar issue.