The Narikoravars were the first to be relocated to Sakkimangalam in 1990. More than 300 families, who were living at Keezh Madurai Railway Station, were offered space here.
“It was a struggle for us to get this site. It took us five years to get house pattas,” says A.Soundarapandian, head of the Narikoravars. In the early 1990s, people belonging to Sourashtra community were offered sites near here for relocation but they refused to take it, citing stigma.
“Education is the only means to combat the oppression faced by us,” says A.Soundarapandian. But in the Narikoravar Colony, which has close to 100 persons of school and college going age, no one is educated. He wants the district administration to set up a school and hospital near the village.
A few paces ahead, there is another residential area where close to 250 families reside, called Sattaiyadi Colony. It consists of whip dancers of Sholigars, Kaatu Naickers, astrologers, palmists, leather puppet showmen, circus performers and many itinerant groups.
Unlike the Narikoravars, who are engaged in making beads and other related ornaments, the whip dancers still are an itinerant population who take their children along with them for performances. This has deprived the children of formal schooling.
Both categories of people are demanding that they should be given milch cows which could result in occupational mobility and economic independence. The administration could support the tribesmen who are engaged in making household products for decorative purposes. Self help groups could be asked to procure them for sales, say Narikoravars.