A seven-foot high and one-km long wall built between a colony of Dalits and a new layout is turning into an issue of untouchability here.
Residents of Nagarajapuram, a Dalit colony at the Veerakeralam-Vedapatti border near the city, alleged on Friday that the wall had denied them direct access to a main road. Alleging that the wall was a symbol of discrimination, the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front has taken up the issue with the government and district authorities.
On directions from the State government, District Collector P. Umanath deputed two Tahsildars — Lakshmikanthan (South) and S. Sundararajan (Coimbatore North) — to carry out an inspection on the site. They inquired with the residents in the colony and also inspected the layout being developed by a realtor on the other side of the wall. District Convenor of the Front U.K. Sivagnanam said hundreds of Dalit families had been living in Nagarajapuram since 1976.
The local residents said that the real estate promoter probably feared that the sites may not fetch good price if Dalits had access to the main road through a link road in the upcoming layout. The link road should connect the colony with the main road that stretched from Thadagam Road to Thondamuthur.
The residents claimed they had been told that there was no link road passing through the layout. The area adjacent to the wall was earmarked for a reserved site. A park was to be created on it.
Jyothimani, a resident of the Dalit colony, said that for reaching the main road now, the residents were forced to take a detour for more than a km. The other long route to the main road could not be used by women because of a liquor shop on the way, she said.
After inspection, Mr. Sundararajan said a surveyor had been sent to measure the boundaries and ascertain the exact position of the compound wall. The local body concerned would be asked to check whether the layout was an approved one and whether the roads and reserved sites had been handed over to it. Justice would be rendered, Mr. Sundarrajan added.