VELLORE: Over 100 residents of Senji Krishnapuram village held K V Kuppam MLA S K Tamilarasan along with Revenue and PWD officials captive for over three hours, with some villagers threatening to end their lives, demanding that surplus water be released from Rajathoppu Reservoir to Bethanaickan Lake in their village, about 2 km from the reservoir.
The villagers let the MLA and others go free at about 4.30 pm after PWD officials agreed to their demand.
The protest began about 8.30 am on Friday when a group of PWD officials had gone to the reservoir for inspection. The reservoir with maximum storage capacity of 20.52 mcft filled up at about 5.30 am on Friday. The surplus water from the reservoir was being discharged through an outlet channel that was carrying the water to Tharapaduvedu lake near Katpadi.
When the villagers did not allow the officials leave the place, police personnel rushed to the spot. The RDO of Vellore (in-charge) Narayanan and MLA Tamilarasan also reached the reservoir at about 1.30 pm to pacify the villagers. However, the villagers also held the RDO and the MLA captive and said that they would not allow anyone to leave with a few villagers threatening to end their lives.
Villagers claimed that the ground water levels would rise and recharge the wells in and around the village if the Bethanaickan Lake gets filled up.
“Releasing surplus water into the outlet channel will not help as there were encroachments along the channel in several areas. The water will be wasted and will not reach Tharapadavedu. Instead of wasting the water, it can be diverted to Bethanaickan lake to benefit farmers here,” said a villager.
An official of PWD, however, said that they cannot release water without a government order. However, the officials agreed to release surplus water (12 cusecs) through ayacut. “We informed the villagers about the procedure,” said the PWD official.