Threats Mute Melur Petitioners

Sagayam committee gets only 71 petitions; officials tie intimidation by granite firms to low response from public

Published: 05th December 2014 06:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2014 06:14 AM   |  A+A-

MADURAI:  Fearing attacks and due to threats from granite companies, particularly PRP firm, a majority of farmers and the public of Melur taluk reportedly did not turn up for the sitting of the Sagayam committee, which received only 71 petitions, including 11 through post, here on Thursday.

U Sagayam, Legal Commissioner of the panel, invited the public, who were affected by the illegal granite quarrying in the district, to represent their grievances in person to him. However, the panel got only 71 petitions on Thursday. Of these, 11 petitions were sent by post, said an officer.

Many ‘informers’ were spying on the Old Ramanathapuram collectorate, where the sitting was held, to pass on information to granite firm owners about the petitioners. As a result, many farmers and the public didn’t turn up before the panel, sources said.

Braving all these intimidations, E Vijay Vasanthan, president of Madurai District Farmers Association, who submitted a petition to the legal commissioner, said “the PRP firm has been repeatedly threatening me not to speak about illegal quarrying with the help of police.”

Vijay Vasanthan, a resident of Thirumohoor, has been repeatedly facing threats since 2011 as he refused to sell his 4.5 acre land to the PRP granites. He had also filed a complaint with the district administration stating that tanks and channels were being used to dump granite waste and marbles. “I have requested Sagayam to provide protection to my family,” he said.

Similarly, Xavier of Thirumohoor claimed that the then police commissioner allotted 27 acres for 367 cops under a welfare scheme close to Pudhuthamaraipatti. “PRP management purchased a few houses from beneficiaries a few years ago by adopting arm twisting methods. Recently, when we went to clear the area, goons hired by PRP threatened us to leave the area,” said one of the petitioners.

A Chellapandian, a top VCK functionary, said that the granite firms, particularly PRP firm, had encroached panchami lands allocated for Dalits at Thiruvathavur. “It has encroached nearly 20 acres and a granite polishing unit of PRP firm was running on a panchami land at Therku Theru village near Melur,” he said.

The sitting will continue on Friday also.

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