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24 Jan 2021, Edition - 2021, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Dalits protest against memorial for Pattukottai Azhagiri

Covai Post Network

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Thanjavur: The decision of the state government to construct a memorial for the ‘Martyr of Tamil’ Azhagirisamy, popularly known as ‘Pattukottai Azhagiri,’ at Aavudaiyankulam in Pattukottai, has now run into trouble, with a Dalit organization raising objections to the plan.

The decision to construct the memorial was made in 2007 by the then chief minister, M Karunanidhi. But the proposal was constantly delayed because the authorities couldn’t finalize the site and cost of the project.

Initially, the district administration chose a site in Aavudaiyankulam, called ‘Aani Vizhunthankulam’ on the Pattukottai-Thanjavur road. The Public Works Department sent a proposal for Rs. 89 lakhs, but the state government wanted the budget to be reduced to Rs. 25 lakhs. The PWD officials replied that it wouldn’t be possible to construct with that budget because the site at Aavudaiyankulam was originally a water body and had been used as garbage dumping yard for many years. Subsequently, the government accepted the original proposal and issued a G.O. sanctioning Rs. 89 lakhs.

The then minister for information, Parithi Ilamvazhuthi, laid the foundation for the construction of the memorial on January 29, 2011, in the presence of the then union minister of state for finance, SS Palanimanickam, and the state minister for commercial taxes, SNM Ubayadullah. The then state minister for cooperation, Ko. Si. Mani, presided over the function.

Now, the foundation and basement of the memorial have been erected. Meanwhile, the Adi Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam, a Dalit outfit, has raised a banner of revolt against the construction of the memorial on the site, which was originally a water-body.

“We are not opposed to the construction of memorial for Pattukottai Azhagiri. But we oppose the construction on the site which is originally a water body,” says Satha Sivakumar, president of the outfit. “There is a Supreme Court direction that no permanent structure should be constructed on the water bodies, but the government is violating the orders by claiming that it is a garbage dumping yard. We have also staged several agitations and even filed a writ petition in the High Court protesting the construction of memorial on the water body,” Sivakumar said.

Meanwhile, a group of activists, led by Sivakumar, covering their mouths with black cloth, presented a petition to the District Collector Annadurai yesterday, pressing their demand. They wanted the memorial to be constructed near the Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram memorial on the Muthupettai Road, so that the tourists could visit both the memorials without any problem.

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