VELLORE: Over 100 residents of Senji Krishnapuram village in Senji Panchayt 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.
The villagers let the MLA and others go free at about 4.30 pm after PWD officials agreed to their demand and diverted surplus water from the reservoir to Bethanaickan lake, about 2 km from the reservoir.
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 million cubic feet (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.
The villagers held the PWD officials captive demanding they divert the surplus water to the lake in their village. However, PWD officials countered saying that they need direction from higher authorities to divert the water.
When the villagers did not allow them to 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 the place until their demands were met 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 in anyway as there were encroachments along the channel in several areas. The water will be wasted,” said a villager.
An official of PWD, however, said that they cannot release water that is not surplus 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. The protest ended at 4.30 pm.