THOOTHUKUDI: A resident of Melmanthai village in Vilathikulam taluk has been running pillar to post for the last 15 years seeking permission to restore the statues of social reformers EV Ramasamy and Dr BR Ambedkar on his private land.
The statues were removed during the expansion of the East Coast Road project in 2007, with a promise from the authorities to reinstall them.
The petitioner, P Kalladi (72), said he installed life-size statues of Periyar and Ambedkar on his private land located adjacent to the ECR in 1991 owing to his passion for the social reformists' works. However, the statues were debased when the road was widened in 2007.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Kalladi who has been petitioning the district administration for permission to install the statues again for many years, said the officials from the Highways Department had promised to restore the statues once the project was completed.
"But, they went back on their promise. Due to my repeated pleas, the State Highways officials compensated me with Rs 11,000 for removing the concrete pedestal," he added. However, despite approaching the district administration on several occasions since 2019, Kalladi could not get permission to reinstall the statues.
Kalladi, who is the district general body member of Dravidar Kazhagam, attributed the prolonged delay to the apathy of the officials. It is alleged that the Vilathikulam police inspector had reported of possible law and order issues, and this led to the restoration delay.
However, Kalladi, who has also been running a Periyar Padipagam, a library for the benefit of the public for many years, said no such issue had come up so far.
Advocate Lingaraj Azad of Dravidar Kazhagam noted that various court orders, including a Madurai Bench of Madras High Court order issued by Justice K Chandru had stated that the officials can not prevent the installation of statues on private lands.
Dravidian activists have urged the district administration to take steps to restore the statues again.