Activist alleges water mafia-officials nexus

Booking of an activist along with the residents under non-bailable sections for stopping a tanker lorry loaded with groundwater pumped out illegally from the villages in Thoothukudi district on Thursday, has raised suspicion in activist and local public that they were being targeted by officials and the water mafia.
Activist alleges water mafia-officials nexus
Activist Gunaseelan (centre) along with local residents block a tanker lorry at Kudhiraimozhi

Chennai

It may be recalled that last Sunday, an environmental activist Paramasivan, who complained against the illegal act in Deivaseyalpuram in Thoothukudi to the district Collector was attacked by a local politician and his men. On Thursday, Gunaseelan, a party functionary and activist from Udangudi, received complaints from residents of villages around Tiruchendur and Udangudi that groundwater from these areas were being extracted and transported out for supply illegally.  He along with some of the local residents stopped a tanker lorry at Kudhiraimozhi village near Udangudi in protest. 
The Village Administrative Officer (VAO) held talks with the protesters. But protesters were adamant that they would hand over the lorry only to the police. Police came and seized the lorry and levied fine. However, the protest did not go down well with the officials, they saw it as a threatening move and the Tiruchendur police booked Gunaseelan and others who led the protest under non-bailable sections. Gunaseelan, speaking to DTNext , said “There are three government orders which ban extraction of ground water by private parties in Thoothukudi. In 2012, PWD banned over extraction of groundwater by individuals. In 2013, the district was declared drought-hit and the Sub-Collector issued an order banning illegal extraction of groundwater for drinking purposes. Similarly, a GO issued in 2016 too baned such activities in the district.” 
He added that none of three GOs were being implemented and anti-social elements keep pumping out groundwater in excess and supply them to urban areas illegally. “When government officials failed to act upon the water mafia, local residents plunged into action,” he said. Asking what was wrong in questioning an illegal activity, Gunaseelan said “Officials and local politicians form an illegal nexus to prevent the people and activists from taking up the issue by attacking them directly or by registering false police cases.”  However, officials denied the charges and gave their set of explanations. A senior official in the district administration said, “Gunaseelan and others prevented the VAO from performing his official duty and hence they are booked.” The official added that strict action would be taken against lorry drivers and owners who transport groundwater illegally from the villages.

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