CHENNAI: Seeking to cap a brewing controversy over the death of a farmer at a contentious check dam across Palar river that was fast moving to be a political storm, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said a probe conducted by the district administration and police in Vellore confirmed that he died in an accident.
After the farmer, C Srinivasan, died following a fall into the Perumpallam check dam on Friday, initial reports suggested that he had committed suicide. This triggered a volley of reactions from political leaders here, who sought immediate action by the State government to stop the work on check dams across Palar river that is affecting the downstream farmers.
However, on Saturday, Jayalalithaa said an inquiry by the Vellore collector and the police revealed that Srinivasan was taking a look at the check dam when he slipped and fell from the wall. The chief minister ordered `3 lakh as solatium to his family from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.
As the issue gathered political colour, Jayalalithaa sought to counter opposition charges, explaining the steps taken by her government, including moving the Supreme Court on July 17 to prevent the neighbouring State from undertaking any dam work across the river on its own. Tamil Nadu contended that increasing the height of check damns violated the rights of the State, and urged the apex court to ensure the natural flow of Palar and its tributaries to the State and sought a permanent injunction against any such work.