Yet another inter-state dispute involving Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring states appear to be brewing with local body officials and erstwhile zamindars of three villages in Theni district accusing Kerala of 'encroaching' on a site, believed to have been visited by Lord Rama, and converting it into a tourist spot.
The Kerala Tourism department had installed a 50-feet tall statue of 'Adhivasis' (tribal couple with a baby) at the site, Ramarkal Mettu, and was also collecting money from tourists for visiting the place, according to Appaji Rajkumar, erstwhile zamindar of Kombai.
Ramkumar says he possessed "copper plate documents", to prove that Ramarkal Mettu belonged to Tamil Nadu. He wondered how Tamil Nadu forest department had allowed Kerala to construct the statue in "our territory and earn revenue".
A forest official, however, said the department had raised objections when Kerala began work on the statue some three years ago. The site, situated six km from Kombai, belonged to reserve forest area of Tamil Nadu, he said. But at that time TN officials did not have survey documents. "Now that we have the documents we have again conveyed our objections to the Kerala Government," he said.
Ramarkal Mettu is considered a sacred place for the Hindus as it was here, according to the legend, Lord Rama performed the last rites for "Jatayu", who was killed after a fight with Ravana to save Sita. Red stones symbolic of Jatayu's blood stains are found in the area.
Tamil Nadu is already involved in disputes with Karnataka over the sharing of Cauvery river waters and the Hogenakkal drinking water project besides the Periyar dam issue with Kerala and a row over a check dam across the Palar river by Andhra Pradesh.