The district administration has sanctioned 131 new houses in villages affected by the November 7 mob fury in Dharmapuri. Each house would have an area of 300 sq.feet and be built at a cost of Rs.2.70 lakh.

This was submitted in a report of a committee on relief and rehabilitation of the affected people of Natham Colony, Annanagar and Kondampatti in Dharmapuri district, to the Madras High Court on Friday.

On November 7 last year, a group entered Natham Dalit colony and nearby habitations and set ablaze the dwellings and caused damage to the residents belongings. Three villages, Natham Colony, Annanagar and Kondampatty were affected. Trouble started after one Nagaraj of Chellankottai, a caste Hindu, committed suicide after his girl married a boy from the Dalit colony. Writ petitions were filed relating to the incident.

On April 29, a Division Bench comprising Justices R.Banumathi and T.S.Sivagnanam nominated a five-member committee, headed by R.Vasuki, IAS, as chairman to inspect the affected villages and submit a comprehensive report. The panel visited the villages and filed a report on relief and rehabilitation of the affected people in the three villages.

As per the committee’s assessment, the total number of affected people was 327, which included two new cases, and the loss was to the tune of Rs.5.67 crore. Out of the 325 families affected, the houses of 131 persons were fully damaged, 94 partly damaged (minor repair) and 14 partly damaged (major repair.)

The engineers of the block had assessed the value of damaged houses as nearly Rs.1.61 crore against which the district administration had sanctioned Rs.3.98 crore. A total of 131 new houses are to be constructed.

As regards compensation, the committee said an interim cash relief of Rs.50,000 was paid to 325 victims. One case had been referred to be CB CID for further inquiry. The committee had arrived at a total sum of Rs.5.67 crore as compensation. While settling compensation, the interim relief was not adjusted. The committee opined that the interim relief could be treated as compensation in this regard and no further compensation was necessary. The district administration had settled Rs.5.58 crore to 324 victims as compensation.

As Dharmapuri district was a backward one, the government had proposed to establish one SIPCOT industrial estate 15 km near the affected villages.

The committee has observed that the people of the affected colonies were under the influence of some ‘guiding force’ which they called ‘Oorkkattu’. They were not able to exercise their free will either in making further claims or in choosing to work or not to work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Counsel appearing for some writ petitioners submitted that the quality of the material used for constructing houses for rehabilitating the affected people was inferior. In spite of complaints, no action had been taken. The villagers had grievances against the functioning of the Tahsildar concerned. The government side sought time for getting instructions.

On behalf of the Centre, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment filed a counter affidavit. It detailed the cases registered by police under the Protection of Civil Rights Act and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for three years from 2009 in Tamil Nadu. For effective implementation of the laws, Central assistance was being provided to the States for strengthening enforcement measures, judicial machinery, inter caste marriages and awareness creation.

The State government sought time to file counter. The Bench ordered that the matter be listed on July 5.

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