Trade and business came to standstill in Madurai four other districts on Thursday as commercial establishments downed their shutters throughout the day, as part of the protests against the Kerala government's move to build a new dam as an alternative to the controversial Mullaperiyar dam.
There was a complete shut down of shops and commercial establishments in the district. The strike call was given by as many as 50 outfits, including trade bodies like the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industries ( and Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (MADITSSIA) in five districts under Periyar - Vaigai Command area.
"The estimated business loss due to the strike could be anywhere from Rs 150 to Rs 200 crores," said S Rethinavelu, senior president of TNCCI. Cinema theatre owners too, joined the strike and cancelled two shows of film screenings.
Members of trade bodies and various outfits also undertook mass hunger strike in many parts of the city. In the mass hunger strike organised at MADITSSIA, 50 various associations like Tamil Nadu Food Grains Merchants' Association Limited, Jewellers and Bullion Merchants' Association, Uranganpatti Industrial Association, Sourashtra Chamber of Commerce, Tamil Nadu Readymade Garments Manufacturer's Association, Rubber Park Madurai Limited, Tamil Nadu Jaggery Merchants Association and others participated. Periyar Pasana Vivasayigal Sangam consisting of farmers from the areas irrigated by Periyar Water and Advocates Association extended their support for the hunger strike.
In another major hunger strike organised by the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, 80 trade and industrial associations like Madurai Notebook Manufacturers Association, Gold Silver and Diamond Merchants Association, Hotel Owners Association affiliated to chamber participated. Along with the Mullaperiyar row, the chamber insisted upon the Centre to commission the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) immediately.
"Two issues like water and power are haunting our state and we addressed both of them during the hunger strike," senior president of the chamber, S Rethinavelu said. There was a good response for the strike with most of the shops closed in the city, as well as the five districts directly benefitting from Mullaperiyar water, he added.
As the two important trade associations called for the strike and with every commercial establishment affiliated to them, the response was high in Madurai city, as 90 percentage of the shops downed their shutters. The fish market at Karimedu also was closed for two days - Thursday and Friday, with the vendors expressing solidarity with the merchants and farmers' associations.
According to police sources, the hunger strike was held at nine places in the city limits and demonstrations were held in six places commercial areas. Drivers and call taxi owners and auto rickshaw drivers in large numbers participated in the strike. A human chain was formed at Nethaji Road by the merchants. Political parties like the BJP and Puthia Tamilagam also staged demonstrations in the city.
The strike also drew partial response in adjacent districts like Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram and Dindigul and lot of shops and commercial establishments remained shut down during the day