A team of engineers from the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department were on Wednesday allegedly prevented by locals from visiting the site where the Kerala Government has controversially proposed to construct a dam across the Siruvani River. Following this, the three-member team had to cut short its visit and hurriedly return to Coimbatore.
In recent days, the proposal to construct a dam across the Siruvani, a tributary of the Bhavani River, has snowballed into an inter-State row with political parties in Tamil Nadu joining hands to oppose the move.
On Wednesday, a technical team, headed by PWD (Water Resources Division, Coimbatore Region) Chief Engineer K Ranganathan, had gone to the site in Attappadi after obtaining due permission from the Kerala PWD officials. After inspecting the Bhavani and Siruvani catchment areas, the team was proceeding to the proposed site when residents of Chittoor village in Palakkad blocked them. “A 30-member group of villagers stopped our vehicle around noon and prevented us from proceeding. They claimed that the Tamil Nadu Government which had prevented the construction of a new dam in Mullaiperiyar was now seeking to disrupt the proposal for a new dam in Attapadi as well. One of the villagers called the police,” Ranganathan told Express.
A Sub-inspector, who arrived at the village, took the engineers to the Agali police station. “We were asked to follow his vehicle. When we produced our identity cards, the police said we could not visit the spot without permission from the Kerala Government and asked us to return to Coimbatore,” he added.
However, the team had obtained permission from the Kerala PWD Executive Engineer’s office. “The officials had provided us basic information about the proposed dam and permitted us to visit the spot at our request,” said an assistant engineer, who was in the delegation.