“Compensation must match the actual damage caused to the Dalit families”

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has expressed dissatisfaction over what it termed slow progress of rehabilitation works in the three Dalit colonies of Naikkankottai village in Dharmapuri district that were attacked by a mob on November 7, last year.

Houses of Dalits were damaged in the attack that followed the alleged suicide of a non-Dalit man over his daughter marrying a Dalit boy belonging to one of the colonies.

Latha Priyakumar, member of the Commission, T. Theethan, Joint Secretary and D. Venkatesan, Director (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry), reviewed on Friday the rehabilitation works being carried out by the district administration.

During the course of the inspection, both the member and the Joint Secretary expressed their unhappiness over the pace of the work, including construction of new houses to replace the fully damaged houses and repairs to partially damaged ones.

Even three-and-half months after the violence at Natham, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti colonies, the construction of only 10 houses was in progress, as on February 21, they noted.

When Mr. Theethan asked why the construction of houses for the Dalits was not handed over to the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Corporation (TAHDCO), P. Ramar, District Revenue Officer, said that the TAHDCO refused to execute the work.

There were no takers for the Statewide tender floated by the district administration in December last for construction of 136 houses in three colonies, each costing Rs. 2.7 lakh.

Hence, the construction was taken up by the Department of Rural Development. The repair works for 16 damaged houses were also to be undertaken at a cost of Rs. 26.16 lakh.

Mr. Theethan wondered whether caste discrimination was a factor in the non-submission of tenders also. He also said the compensation must match the actual damage caused to the Dalit families as per the Special Component Plan for the Scheduled Castes laid down by the Union government.

He said there was no limit to compensation for the damage caused to the Dalits. The commission team also received petitions from the Dalits.

After the inspection, Ms. Latha Priyakumar, Mr. Theethan and Mr. Venkatesan had a meeting with District Collector R. Lilly and Superintendent of Police Asra Garg.

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