THOOTHUKUDI: Protesters associated with the Thamirabarani River Desilting Management Committee turned to the gods to save Thamirabarani river from the hands of illegal sand miners.
On Tuesday, they visited Kallabiran Temple at Srivaikuntam and offered special prayers. Then they submitted their petition to the Lord by dropping it in the hundial and left for St.Santhiyagappar Church, Srivaikuntam. A special prayer was also offered there and another petition dropped in the church's hundial.
Then around noon they went to the only Jamath at Srivaikuntam and explained their petition. Their prayers were read on the mike. Raja, councillor of Srivaikuntam Town Panchayat and also the coordinator of the committee, headed the protest.
After submitting the petitions, Raja claimed that they had submitted several petitions to various authorities including the Public Works Department((PWD) and even to the Collector but no action had been taken to curb illegal sand mining.
As a last resort, they turned to the gods who alone could save the Thamirabarani River and prayed to the gods to save river sand from illegal miners the same way they protected Srivaikuntam town.
Raja also alleged that there was a nexus between sand miners and policemen as he got frequent threats from policemen to stop protesting and to remain quiet as most local politicians do.
Even other members of the protesting committee were disturbed late at night in the name of security and threatened by policemen not to take part in the protests, said Raja.
He further alleged that though only a maximum of eight feet of sand could be removed from the river bed according to the National Green Tribunal((NGT), the sand miners excavated up to 20 feet and removed huge portions of sand.
Due to this illegal mining of sand there was a threat to ground water resource of villages in the southern part of the district such as Udangudi, Sathankulam and more, claimed Raja.
The committee would not stay quiet unless illegal sand mining was curbed and the excavated sand given free to farmers as announced earlier, claimed Raja.
The committee, taking the Kudankulam Anti-Nuclear Movement as a model, had decided to launch several novel protests to draw people's attention to illegal sand mining and to get support from everyone.
The committee had decided to enter the river en masse and stand on a single leg. The traders, who were also part of the committee, had decided to raise black flags in front of their shops to show their opposition to illegal sand mining.
Further a special prayer would be offered at the mosque on Friday afternoon and a similar special prayer offered at the church on Sunday. All this, the protest committee believed, would get the attention of most people and motivate them to participate in the protest.