Bundh over dam hits 5 TN districts

Bundh over dam hits 5 TN districts

Agitation against Keralas stand on Mullaperiyar enters 18th day

Most shops, hotels and commercial establishments downed shutters in the districts of Theni, Madurai, Dindigul, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga, where farmers are directly dependent on the waters from the Mullaperiyar reservoir, to protest Kerala’s stand on the issue.

The bundh was alongside other continuing forms of protest including a fast by the representatives of about 51 traders’ associations in Madurai, as the agitation in the Southern districts entered the 18th day, the police said.

A large group of farmers also attempted to picket the Madurai Collectorate office.  Usually busy shopping areas in Madurai city which used to be milling with shoppers, wore a deserted look on Thursday.

The closure was total in Theni district which borders Kerala’s Idukki district where the Mullaperiyar dam is located.

Even theatre owners had cancelled the noon and matinee shows in these districts.
The main Gandhi Market in Dindigul was completely shut down, affecting movement of essential articles including vegetables into Kerala.

In some places like Tiruchirappalli and Erode, Keralite shop-owners and businessmen joined their Tamil Nadu counterparts to voluntarily close their shops on Thursday to express solidarity with the agitating farmers in this state.

DMK MPs met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and appraised him of the situation vis-à-vis the alleged continuing attacks on Tamils and Ayappa devotees going to Kerala, as a fallout of the Mullaperiyar issue.

Intervention sought

The MPs, led by T R Baalu, DMK Parliamentary party leader, sought Central intervention to ensure the safety of Tamils in that state. They also later called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the continuing crisis in both the states.

MDMK leader Vaiko, writing a letter to the prime minister on Thursday, expressed concern at the fact that Central Police forces were not yet deployed to protect the Mullaperiyar dam.

Some “lumpen elements instigated by some political parties in Kerala are attempting to break the dam,” he charged.  

Vaiko also urged Singh to revoke the Centre’s decision of appointing a committee of the National Disaster Management Authority to draw up a “Contingency Response Plan”for the Mullaperiyar dam and downstream areas in Kerala.

In a noble reach-out gesture, the Left parties and other democratic forces aligning with them in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu have decided to assist the respective state Police forces to stop those causing disturbance to public peace on both sides of the border and to ensure adequate protection to pilgrims going to Sabarimala Lord Ayappa Temple.

Disclosing this in a statement late on Thursday evening, the CPM’s Tamil Nadu Committee Secretary, G Ramakrishnan said that violent agitations, economic blockades of road links to Kerala, alleged attacks on Tamil people in Kerala or stoning jewellery shops, tea stalls or bakeries owned by Malayalees in Tamil Nadu would not help resolve the Mullaperiyar dam issue.

Chiding the Centre for continuing to remain a mere spectator amid the continuing violent incidents, Ramakrishnan said the GOI should immediately intervene and take steps to restore normalcy in both the states.

Indulging in acts on both sides that could irreparably damage the long, historic and cultural ties between Tamils and Malayalees was most unfortunate.

Hence the CPM politburo, in a statesman-like appeal, has called upon the people of both the states to restore the spirit of brotherhood and age-old cordiality between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Ramakrishnan stressed. Upholding the traditional water rights of Tamil Nadu from the dam should not conflict with protecting the centuries-long brotherly ties between the people of the two states, Ramakrishnan reiterated in a passionate appeal.         

Black flag protest against PM

DMDK on Thursday said it would stage a black flag protest against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on December 26 during his two-day visit to Tamil Nadu from Sunday, alleging that the Centre was “biased” against the state on a host of issues including Mullaperiyar dam, reports PTI from Chennai.

The Centre had not acted in Tamil Nadu’s favour on the Mullaperiyar dam issue, though a Supreme Court verdict was in the state’s favour,DMDK founder and Opposition Leader in the Tamil Nadu Assembly Vijayakant said.        

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