KANNUR: Close on the heels of the Keezhattur struggle, where the ruling CPM was made to yield to cadre pressure as farmers put up a strong resistance against the acquisition of around 250 acres of paddy fields for the proposed Kuppam-Kuttikkol bypass project, another agitation is posing a tough challenge to the party in the red bastion.The agitation launched by the local populace against the proposed dedicated storage terminal to be developed by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and the Indian Oil Corporation at Kandankali, near Payyannur, with common user facility to ease the supply requirements for the middle and northern districts of Kerala, is gaining ground despite the party leadership’s plea to support the project.
Though people at Punchakkadu and Kandankali were initially not against the project, a small group of eco-activists launched a stir under the banner of ‘Jana Jagratha’, Payyannur. “We were only a handful. But, we have succeeded in our efforts to make the people aware of the threat posed by the project,” said Appukuttan Karayil, leader of Jana Jagratha. Later, more people joined the struggle and they formed a committee, ‘Nelvayal Thanneerthada Samrakshana Samithi’. Meanwhile the people of Punchakkadu area launched another struggle under the banner ‘Janaraksha Samithi’.
The District Collector had convened a meeting in April this year, to discuss the project where C Krishnan MLA, Municipal Chairman Sasi Vattakkovval and councillor M Pradeepan - all CPM representatives - extended their support to the project. As the members of Jana Jagratha came to know about the discussion, they swung into action and intensified the agitation.
As per the project, 129 acres of land will be acquired on the bank of Perumba River with the Mangalore – Shoranur railway line running for 1,300 metres on the northern boundary between Payyannur and Ezhimala railway Stations. According to the protesters, 129 acres of land including paddy fields, mangrove forest and wetland will be filled for building of the storage terminal. “The vegetation in the entire region will be destroyed,” said Appukuttan.
TP Padmanabhan, leader of the action committee and an environmentalist, said the fresh water resources in the area will get contaminated with brackish water entering the water bodies. Filling of 77 acres of paddy fields will lead to environment disaster and hills will be levelled for the purpose, he said.
Above all, the storage of inflammable oil in huge quantity will pose a threat to the schools and houses around the project area, alleged Appukkuttan