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Women, Children Block Road Against Proposed Sewage Treatment plant in Kerala

The local resistance committee has called for a hartal on Friday in areas such as Kuttichira, Kundugal, Idiyangara, Mukhadar, Kuthukallu, Nainamvalappu, and Kothi.
Sewage Treatment Plant

Image credit: The Hindu

Local residents, including women and children, squatted on the road and blocked traffic as part of an agitation against the proposed sewage treatment plant (STP) at Kothi, a thickly populated area, in this northern district on Thursday. The area remained tense with the agitation against the STP continuing for the second consecutive day.

The protest intensified after the Municipal Corporation resumed its work to construct a compound wall for the proposed plant. According to a report by The Hindu, the residents attempted to stop the construction of the wall. However, their attempts were thwarted by the police.

Several protesters were arrested and removed from the spot forcefully by the police. The Hindu report said that the residents who were taken away included women and children from the area.

An elderly man, who was taking part in the protest, collapsed on the road after suffering some uneasiness and police later shifted him from the area. The agitators alleged that the police used force even against a child who took part in the protest along with his mother. A woman protester said they would not backtrack from this protest at any cost.

"We have young children. We cannot let a sewage treatment plant come up in this populated area. If it comes, we cannot sell our property. Our daughters will not get good marriage alliances. We will continue the fight even if we lose our lives," she said, speaking to PTI.

A report by The Hindu said that the work began on Wednesday after the removal of an injunction order issued by the Kerala high court against the construction. The residents had gathered at the spot as early as 7 am on Thursday. The report said that wooden logs were placed on the road and women were seen sitting on chairs to block the construction workers. Tyres were also burnt to stop the police. However, by around 10 am, the police had taken over control of the entire area, according to The Hindu as four assistant commissioners of police – accompanied by close to 100 police personnel – camped near the construction site.

Kothi has been witnessing protests under the aegis of a people's collective for some time saying that the plant would cause severe environmental impact in the area, a charge which was denied by the Corporation authorities. The local resistance committee has called for a hartal on Friday in areas such as Kuttichira, Kundugal, Idiyangara, Mukhadar, Kuthukallu, Nainamvalappu, and Kothi, reported The Hindu.

The daily quoted Kozhikode mayor Beena Phillip as alleging that there is a “political conspiracy” behind the resistance to the STP. She reportedly said that women and children were being pushed to the street to stage protests and called the act “unfair”. Phillip has said that the Corporation would go ahead with the project.

The STP has been a controversial project since it has planned at around 15 years ago, as the 2.6-acre land at the proposed site is close to the Connolly Canal and Kottooli wetlands. The National Green Tribunal, which was hearing the issue ultimately gave its verdict over two years ago in favour of the Corporation.

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