Village Administrative Officer commits suicide

Thanjavur: A Village Administrative Officer allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of a passenger train, with his family claiming that he did so due to pressure from officials to achieve the target to remove harmful ‘Seemai Karuvelam’ (prosopis) trees.

Police, quoting family members, said the VAO, Venkatesan (34) of Thalayamangalam village in the district jumped in front of the Thanjavur-Tiruchirapalli passenger train at nearby Rettipalayam last night.

He had reportedly been very stressed over the past five days as the district administration had fixed a target to remove Seemai karuvelam trees in his jurisdiction.

On December 20 2016, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court had directed 11 District Collectors under its jurisdiction to remove ‘Seemai Karuvelam’ (prosopis) trees and other harmful weeds which harm the ecosystem and file a compliance report by January 11.

The bench had given the direction on a petition by MDMK leader Vaiko.

His family members refused to receive his body, kept at Thanjavur Medical College hospital and staged a demonstration there, demanding that the administration take responsibility for his death and act against those who had ‘pressurised’ him.

The VAO Union also decided to go on an agitation this evening in front of Thanjavur railway station.

The Revenue Divisional Officer, Thanjavur and the Tahsildar rushed to the hospital and are in talks with the family to persuade them give up their demonstration.