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Theni farmers walk out of public hearing

They oppose move to draw Mullaperiyar water for Madurai

THENI

A group of farmers walked out of a public hearing held to hear the views of the farmers and others in connection with drawing water from Mullaperiyar river to Madurai city through pipelines.

The then AIADMK government had announced that considering the rise in the population in Madurai city and the increase in the number of Madurai Corporation wards from 72 to 100, it had earmarked over ₹1,000 crore for drawing water from Mullaperiyar river to Madurai.

Prior to the general elections to the Legislative Assembly, the then government laid the foundation stone and initiated the works.

However, a section of farmers opposed to the project and claimed that over a period of time, many parts of Theni district might become a desert. As the opposition to the project grew, many farmers joined hands and staged demonstrations.

At a recent public hearing, some farmers even threatened to end their lives if the project was implemented.

When officials from Madurai Corporation held a meeting at Uthamapalayam in the presence of officials from agriculture, revenue, public works and police departments from Theni district on Saturday, some of the participants raised objections.

After the officials explained the project to them and assured them that Theni would not be affected, the farmers said water could be taken through the river and not through pipelines as only the wells along the river would get recharged.

When the officials said even after taking water through pipelines, there would not be any issues, including water shortage in Theni, the farmers walked out.

Later, talking to reporters, the farmers’ representatives said they would stage a demonstration at Theni Collectorate on Monday and, if required, take the issue up with Chief Minister M.K. Stalin soon.

“We are not stopping the project or preventing people in Madurai from getting water, but we want the officials to consider our plight as well,” they added.

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