Villagers Protest Pepsi Bottling Plant,47 Arrested
TIRUCHY: Finding that no action was taken against a private bottling unit which drew huge quantity of ground water, the villagers of Sooriyur attempted to surrender their ration cards to the District Collector at venue of the the Republic Day celebrations. They fear that the ground water level would drop if the bottling plant continued to function. However, police stopped them midway, and arrested as many as 47 villagers on Monday.
According to the protesters, LA Bottlers have been drawing excess of ground water for their bottling unit which is feared to drain ground water in around eight kilometres. This apart, the chemicals discharged by the unit has been contaminating the ground water and polluting the entire area which affects agricultural activities in the region. They say that agriculture is not only affected at Sooriyur, but also at Kanthalur, Kumbakudi, Navalpattu, Elenthaipattu, Keeranur, Puliyur and a few adjacent villages.
For over three years, villagers have been repeatedly appealing to the officials to initiate action against the bottling unit, but no action was taken against the company, said the villagers.
They had staged a series of demonstrations including many attempts to besiege the unit, since about 1,000 acres have been affected.
The officials usually hold talks with the agitating villagers when ever they show their opposition, but no action is taken.
Meanwhile, two weeks back, the residents approached the Collector and urged him to cancel the license of the bottling unit, and decided to surrender their ration cards as a mark of protest against the officials’ apathy. However, on January 21 (Wednesday), officials held a talk with the villagers and asked them to withdraw their agitation of surrendering ration cards.
Since no conclusion was arrived at the peace meeting of the public and the officials, they villagers announced to continue with the agitation.
As scheduled, the villagers gathered at the AR ground at Subramaniapuram and attempted to surrender their cards with District Collector KS Palanisamy who was presiding over the Republic Day celebrations. However, the police stopped them and asked them to disperse. When the public failed to disperse, the police arrested all the 47 persons. Later, they were released.
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