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NLC tower damaged in powerful blast

Neyveli NOV. 20. A high-tension transmission tower, carrying power from the Neyveli Lignite Corporation's thermal station-II to the Southern Regional Grid through the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board grid, suffered damage in a powerful blast, set off by extremists on last night at Thoppayankulam in Villupuram district. They were "protesting Karnataka's stand on the Cauvery issue". A new outfit `Cauvery Retrieval Force, Tamil Nadu' has claimed responsibility for the blast.

The police have begun combing operations. Experts have collected samples from the site, around 13 km from the NLC, to ascertain the exact nature of the explosion. The incident occurred on a desolate cashew grove around 7.15 p.m. Though all four legs of the 50 metre-high tower were cut off from the concrete base, transmission was not disrupted.

The blast was so powerful that the noise was heard by residents around 5 km. "

Some of us spotted three youths coming out the grove on a motorcycle shortly after the blast. As we attempted to stop them, they pretended to slow down, but suddenly sped away,'' a villager, R.Arumugam, said.

The tower is maintained by the Power Grid Corporation of India.

Posters against 'Kannada chauvinists'

The extremist outfit has sent separate messages to the Centre, the State Government and `Kannada chauvinists' going by handwritten posters left near the blast site.

One of the posters urged the State Government to immediately stop supply of power to Karnataka, which "denied release of Cauvery water''.

In an oblique reference to the NLC's TPS-I Expansion, under which Karnataka would get a share of 25 per cent of the 370 MW to be added to the regional grid shortly, the outfit asked the Government to stop supply to that State.

It urged the Government to stop all road and rail services to Karnataka, besides snapping commercial ties, disburse compensation to delta farmers at Rs.5,000 per head and ban all Kannada programmes beamed by Doordarshan and private channels.

"Our programmes will continue until a solution is found to the Cauvery issue,'' a poster said.

Another poster urged the Centre to take immediate steps to ensure implementation of a Supreme Court verdict directing release of 205 tmcft as per the Cauvery Tribunal's interim award and convene the Cauvery River Authority to find a lasting solution.

One poster, targeting `Kannada chauvinists', said history spoke of the Chola emperor, Rajarajan, demolishing a dam constructed by the Kannada king, Narasimhan-I, across Cauvery in the 12th century A.D.

"Now as Mother Cauvery's legs are shackled, thousands of Rajarajans are all set to secure her release by smashing dams built by Karnataka.

This is not an empty threat as history will come full circle,'' it warned.

The DIG (Villupuram Range), Vijay Kumar, and the SP (Villupuram), A.K.Singh, were camping at the site.

The SP (Cuddalore), Rajeev Kumar, visited the spot. The Q-branch police team commenced its investigation.

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