‘Authorities turning a blind eye towards problems faced by Elathur residents’
The protest against the the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation’s shunting yard and fuel depot in Elathur has strengthened with the protest committee planning to move the High Court demanding that the depot be shifted to Kannur district as HPCL had assured them years ago.
Chandrasekharan Mattuvayal, the chairman of the reconstituted protest committee, said the residents of Elathur had no resort other than the court as the authorities including the Kozhikode Corporation, the district administration, and the State government had failed them by allying themselves with the petroleum giant.
“The authorities have turned a blind eye towards the problems faced by the local people of Elathur because of the shunting yard and the depot. They have also paid no heed to the rampant destruction of mangrove forest and filling of wetlands in over 10 acres near the depot,” said Mr. Chandrasekharan.
HPCL set up the depot and shunting yard in Elathur 34 years ago, on the pretext that it was opening a petrol pump. The depot is located between the highway and the railway line over 3.75 acres of land. “This space is inadequate for such a depot which actually needs over 10 acres. Hence, it poses a danger to the local people,” said Mr. Chandrasekharan.
However, the biggest complaint of the local people is connected to the imminent closure of the railway gate that links a large part of Ward 2 of the Kozhikode Corporation to the highway. They said the railway underpass that was built to resolve the problem was too narrow and no fire engine could pass through it.
“The gate is closed for the convenience of the shunting yard. Even now it is closed for the major part of the night. The wagons to the depot are often parked across the gate, preventing traffic through the road during the day. We have had several accidents here when people tried to crawl under the wagons to get to the other side of the railway line,” said the chairman of the protest committee.
The HPCL authorities had assured the local people that the depot would be shifted to Payyanur in Kannur district a few years ago. But the attempt to shift failed due to technical reasons.
The newly reconstituted protest committee had gone on a hunger strike recently demanding that the depot be shifted to Payyannur. They have already moved the district court. “This is a matter of our existence. We are living in a state of uncertainty as the K-Rail, HPCL and the Railway have come down on us together,” said Mr. Chandrasekharan.
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