EVEN as the AIADMK is drawing flak for Tuticorin massacre, the Tamil Nadu government has embarked on another step of its anti-people measures by announcing an 8-lane national highway connecting Chennai and Salem.
The proposed 8 lane highway, with a width of 900 meters for a distance of 277.3 kms at a cost of about Rs 11,000 crores, the highway, totaling about 2,343 hectares of land is proposed to run across five districts namely Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem districts in Tamil Nadu.
The highway will gobble up 120 kms of protected forests, more than 300 villages, hundreds of water bodies, mountains and wells. Apart from permanently affecting the livelihood of thousands of farmers, the project will also affect the flora and fauna along the way. The proposed tunneling of mountains along the way will affect the ecological equilibrium in the area.
AIKS unit of Tamil Nadu, called for a series of protest actions against these State atrocities upon the affected villagers, starting with hoisting black flags at their homes and fields on June 26 which was a huge success.
A conspiracy of transporting iron ore from Kavuthi and Vediyappan hills in Tiruvannamalai district and Kanjamalai hills in Salem district, is seen as the reason for the flagrant attacks on the livelihood of the people. The project mooted by the Jindal Group was thwarted earlier in 2003 and following a stern refusal from the people in these districts.
Now, with the Modi government willing to play second fiddle to the corporates, it had reared its head again with the active help of the subservient AIADMK government.
Both the state and the central governments were alacrytic to this project that was approved within a night by transport minister Nitin Gadkari and the state government on its part acted at supersonic speed to initiate land acquisition process without bothering about the opinion and sentiments of the people in these districts.
The state government swooped on those who were expressing dissenting voices on this project using its police muscle. Including a teenage girl Malarvizhi, the police have arrested many social activists in this area. Pijush Manush, actor Mansur Ali Khan, a media team from Mathrubhoomi TV of Kerala were also not spared.
When the AIKS, Tamil Nadu, organised a gathering of peasants of Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts in Tiruvannamalai at a marriage hall, the police threatened its owner. As a result, the meeting was held at the AIKS Tiruvannamalai district committee office. Even then the police arrested many peasants on their way to the meeting and the district organisers were also arrested on this score.
The revenue officials with a posse of police force are entering agricultural fields to fix the marking stones along the proposed corridor, paying no heed to the land acquisition rules.
When the owners of those lands and the villagers were objecting to such highhanded action of the revenue officials, they were arrested on the charges of obstructing government officials.
Every day, the police are rounding up hundreds of peasants including elderly women, and an inherent violence upon them has become the order of the day.
The CPI(M), Tamil Nadu state committee along with other political parties and social organisations has planned a powerful struggle against this clandestine project in the name of development, made to order to the benefit of corporate houses.