News : Protesting Villagers Unable to Reach Amma Call Centre
Vellore, India, Jan 25, 2016 -- The recently-launched "Amma Call Centre" was not reachable for the 100-odd villagers of Kavanur and Kandaneri on Sunday.
The villagers fighting against a sand quarry on Palar riverbed returned disappointed after their repeated attempts to lodge complaint with the "Amma Call Centre" turned futile. They tried for the toll free number – 1100 – between 10 a.m. and 12 noon but none of their calls were connected.
Close to 100 villagers of Kandaneri and Kavanur gathered on the Palar riverbed to register their protest against the sand quarry.
They raised slogans against starting a quarry on the riverbed, and wanted to register their grievance with the centre.
"Majority of the villagers, except a few women, brought their cell phones to the protest. All of us tried for the toll free number – 1100 - one after the other but none were connected," S.N.C. Marthandam, organiser of Palar Protection Awareness Movement.
For some villagers, the number was not reachable, while it was not in use for some. Some got the response "check the number you have dialled", he said.
But Mr. Marthandam said he was lucky enough to get through after repeated calls. "But after a ring, my call was kept on waiting for 10 minutes and was not connected to the officer. So, I had to end the call. By calling the centre, we had hoped of getting quick solution for our problem," he said.
One of the protestors, G. Mahalingam, former panchayat president, Kavanur village, said he was disappointed that their grievance could not be registered with the call centre.
"We are against the sand quarry, and the government should not permit one here. A quarry functioned at the same spot nearly five years ago," he said.
The quarry operator had laid a path to the quarry, and had conducted "pooja" on Sunday to start sand mining, he said.
"Sand was taken away in two to three lorries. The quarry operator has already bribed several residents of the two villages of Rs. 5,000 per ration card. The ration cards were taken away four days ago, and they were returning it now," he alleged.
Mr. Marthandam elaborated that already, sand has been quarried from the Palar riverbed in various parts of the district such as Thottalam and Vannivedu.
"It is become of sand mining that there were many cases of drowning in the river following rains.
Water flow into the pits that were created by mining had led to drowning of several persons," he said.
Villagers of Kavanur and Kandaneri protested against a sand quarry on Palar river bed
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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