MADURAI: Hailing Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as ‘living Pennycuick’, farmers’ leaders said, by winning the Mullaiperiyar dam case she brought a new lease of life to the agrarian community.
“We have never seen Colonel John Pennycuick, who had sacrificed his life to build the dam, but now we are seeing him through CM. Amma has emerged victorious in the decades-long legal battle to increase the storage from 136 feet to 142 feet in the dam,” said R Arul Prakasam, Panning Committee Member of Periyar Irrigation System.
Recalling the British engineer Col. Pennycuick pledging his property back home to construct the dam 130 years ago, he said Kerala, fanning unfounded fears, brought down the storage from 152 to 136 feet.
Squarely blaming the previous DMK government for failing to take decisive steps on this issue, Prakasam said in contrast, Jayalalithaa, with her unwavering leadership, secured victory. “It is no ordinary struggle and as such the victory is historic. Hence, to farmers she is living Pennycuick,” he said.
Going a step further, Panaiyur A Azhagu Servai, Madurai district secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam said, “People of the five southern districts would sacrifice their lives for Jayalalithaa to win this case.” A Madurai Veeran, Ramanathapuram district Secretary, Vagai Irrigation Farmers Association, said fishermen of Ramanathapuram were also confident of the CM retrieving Katchatheevu and restoring their traditional fishing rights.
The CM who was very attentive to every speaker, appreciated farmer Azhagu Servai before commencign her address. Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, was among those present.