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Village in India Evacuates to Protest Bottled Water Plant
This story from India shows what lengths local populations will go through to protect water resources.
People leave village protesting mineral water
July 6, 2010, The Times of India
MADURAI: Over 500 persons, most of them dalits belonging to 250 families, deserted their village, Valliammalpuram near Kadayanallur in Tirunelveli district, on Sunday and went to live on a dry pond in the outskirts of their village protesting the inauguration of a mineral water plant.
Valliammalpuram is a dalit village in Nainaraharam panchayat in Tirunelveli district. A few months ago they came to know of a proposal to set up a mineral water plant in Nainaraharam and opposed it. The factory was being set up by relatives of a local municipal councillor V Sultan (DMK) and repeated petitions to the chief minister's cell and the environment ministry had not borne any result.
Speaking to TOI, Saravanan, a villager, said theirs was an agricultural village where over 280 acres was under cultivation of various crops including paddy, banana and sugarcane. They heard that seven acres of land had been bought for the water unit and a borewell up to a depth of 850 feet was to be dug. "We feared that our livelihood would be affected by this borewell and have been opposing it ever since," he said.
On Sunday, the plant was inaugurated by state environment minister T P M Mohideen Khan and, as an act of protest, the people immediately deserted their village.
They left with their belongings and livestock and went to the dry bed of the pond said they intended to stay there until their demand to close down the unit was conceded. They said officials should have paid attention to what the people were trying to say. Industries that had an adverse effect on agriculture and groundwater should be banned, the villagers feel.
As tension prevailed in the village following the protest, a posse of police personnel has been deployed in the region.
Posted by Richard Girard