CHENNAI: Claiming they feared violence by goondas and local police, 250 villagers from Tiruvottriyur Kuppam - a fishing hamlet in North Chennai - gathered outside Police commissioner’s office on Tuesday to submit a complaint.
Villagers claimed they were being coerced to sign a no-objection letter to allow Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) to lay a pipeline -running from Chennai Port to CPCL, Manali- through their village. The villagers were diverted from the commissioner’s office to submit the complaint at H5- New Washermanpet police station.
“The ground water in the whole of North Chennai is polluted because of leaks in pipelines that various industries use,” said a fisherwoman. She claimed there was no clarity on the safety aspects of the project.
However, when the women protest against the laying of pipeline, they were being coerced by local goondas into signing a no-objection for the laying of the pipeline, she alleged.
“K Karthik , son of former MLA K Kuppan and a sub-contractor with CPCL for the project, and other politically and financially powerful people, constantly cause violence in our village. The men in our house have gone into hiding and we haven’t seen them in days,” she alleged adding that local police has been compromised. “They support them and calls the women as ‘accused’. The police threatened us not to protest and stay silent,” she said adding that the police humiliated women who protested.
“Hundreds of police officers are constantly moving about the village barring us from gathering and voicing our dissent.”
She also alleged that a former councillor Shankar and his ally, Mahendran had received bribes from CPCL, and spread terror in the area with the support of officials of H8 police station on Tiruvottriyur High Road.
The villagers demanded that immediate action must be taken on the ‘compromised’ cops and others engaged in violence.
Tiruvottriyur Kuppam, a large hamlet near the sea, has 4,000-5,000 residents. “If there is a leak, the officials will simply blame nature and offer only small compensation,” she rued adding that potential leaks in these pipelines could be fatal for their livelihood. “They are exploiting our ignorance about the environment impact by using coercion.”
Assistant commissioner Raghuram Kannan, speaking to Express said a police force of 200 has been deployed to prevent violence in the area. He claimed that the villagers were falsely accusing police of spreading violence.