Tirunelveli: The ire of the students and environmentalists turned on the Tirunelveli district collector here on Thursday. For his statement on doubling the existing capacities of the Manimutharu and Papanasam dams has been viewed as a ruse to divert public attention from the Madras High court’s Madurai bench verdict allowing water supply to the bottling plants of Pepsi and Coke functioning at the SIPCOT complex in Gangaikondan in the district. Gathered at the ‘Jawahar Thidal’ in the town to express their anguish over the court quashing the two PILs’ against supplying water to the soft drink majors from the Thamirabarani river, around 100 students and youth along with environmentalists charged the Tirunelveli district administration with having failed to act decisively in favour of the farmers dependent on Thamirabarani water in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts in the case.”
Instead to divert our wrath from the news of the dismissal of the PILs that have been filed to protect Thamirabarani water for agriculture, the Tirunelveli district
collector, M Karunakaran wantonly issued a statement this morning that he has taken steps to double the capacity of the two major dams, Manimutharu and
Papanasam,” fumed the youths, who too questioned the feasibility of doubling the major dams that have the maximum capacity of 5,511 million cusecs
(Manimutharu dam) and 5,500 million cusecs (Papanasam dam). Acknowledging the reasons behind the suspicion of the students against the district collector in the issue, noted environmentalist, P Muthuraman said that it is highly unscientific to double the capacity of the two major dams for which the permission from the union ministry of Environment and Forest is necessary.
Muthuraman too added that in order to “protect” the interest of the soft drink majors, Tirunelveli district collector seems to have been raking up a more serious
environment issue. Environmentalist Muthuraman, who has been pivoting movement for the protection of Thamirabarani too filed a petition in the Madras
highcourt against giving water to the soft drink companies in 2015 that however, was dismissed. Muthuraman too complained that the district administration turned a blind eye towards giving the two companies around 1.25 lakh litres of water per day, even when the High court stayed water supply to the companies since November 22, 2016.
“How come the district collector shirked off his responsibility in this?” asked the environmentalist. Responding to the students’ allegation against him in the
issue, Tirunelveli district collector, Karunakaran, however, said that he was aware of the dismissal of the PILs’ by the High court. The collector, moreover, added,
“he just made it public the proposal he had sent to the government two months ago to the government seeking to double the storage capacity of the two major
reservoirs.” “The timing, however, is just a coincidence.”
JAL PROTEST: Meanwhile, PTI reported from Tirunelveli that upset over the Madras High Court order allowing Pepsi and Coca Cola to draw water from the
Thamirabarani river for their bottling plants in this district for manufacturing soft drinks, a large number of persons Thursday stood in knee-deep water in the
river to express their ire. They also protested against the “laxity” on the part of the authorities in handling the case.