Volunteers detained for auditing lake in Taramani

The city police detained 11 volunteers of NGO Arappor Iyakkam on Saturday morning, when they were auditing the poor condition of a lake in Taramani.
Volunteers detained for auditing lake in Taramani

Chennai

Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of Arappor Iyakkam, said, “Our volunteers were surveying the Kallu Kuttai lake, when the Taramani police arrived to stop them. When the volunteers sought an explanation, the police claimed that they ought to have availed prior police permission to conduct a survey.”

The volunteers were detained in a marriage hall in Taramani before the police booked them. But, all the 11 detainees were released on self-bail.

Jayaram said that Arappor Iyakkam has been conducting such type of lake audits for more than three years and had surveyed around 40 lakes. This is the first time they have been asked to obtain police permission. “In fact, based on our survey, the government has taken steps to restore Villivakkam lake, Moongil Eri lake and Chitlapakkam lake,” he added.

Alleging that the government is trying to restrain the organisation’s activities for the last one week, the Arappor Iyakkam convenor also cited the refusal of the police to give permission for ‘Kelu Chennai Kelu’ protest and ‘know your rights’ event, which was set aside by the Madras High Court. Now, they have interfered with our volunteers undertaking lake audit, he said.

V Suresh, national general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) made a representation to AK Viswanathan, city police commissioner condemning the police action against volunteers. “The situation is so pathetic that even to conduct peaceful agitations and protests, the police routinely reject applications for permission, forcing organisations to approach the High Court,” he pointed out in the letter.

Meanwhile, a police official said that they stopped the NGO as a precautionary measure in order to prevent a possible clash between the volunteers and the locals.

Despite being in one of the prime locations of the city, Kallu Kuttai lake now lies filled with garbage and sewage.

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