Farmers march towards Kerala border, blocked

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Farmers and members of various farmers’ associations in the district have expressed their anguish over “the arbitrary move by Kerala government to establish a vehicle parking facility in the catchment area of Mullaperiyar dam”.

They marched towards Tamil Nadu-Kerala border on Monday, and tried to enter Kerala to inspect the new parking facility, being developed by Kerala Forests Department, in Thekkadi.

When Tamil Nadu Police prevented them near Kumuli check-post, the farmers entered into an argument with them. However, the police did not allow them to cross the border, thereby avoiding the possibility of law and order problem. Sufficient force had been deployed at the border.

Later, the farmers staged a demonstration and raised slogans condemning the “anti-farmer activity of Kerala government”.

Addressing the gathering, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association president P.R. Pandian said Kerala had been continuously denying even the genuine rights of the farmers of Tamil Nadu. Already, the Supreme Court had stated that no activity should be undertaken at the dam site and in the catchment areas. Establishment of a parking facility there was illegal. When storage level in Periyar dam increased during rainy season, the parking lot would be submerged, he added.

Similarly, Kerala had encroached on forest land near Cumbum Muttu forest check-post in Tamil Nadu for setting up a commercial department booth, on the claim that the land was under its control. When the matter was brought to the knowledge of Idukki district administration, the officials said it was the responsibility of the Theni administration to measure the land and settle the dispute, the farmers alleged.

Another section of the farmers staged a demonstration near Cumbum Mettu. They planned to meet Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami in this connection on March 10.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu revenue officials had planned to conduct a field survey on Tuesday to check whether the area where the commercial department booth was established by Kerala government came under Tamil Nadu, sources said.

In December 2011, hundreds of farmers marched towards Kerala border demanding increase in water storage level in Periyar dam.

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