Tribal settlement in Pallavarayanpettai lacks basic amenities

Published - July 10, 2024 07:33 pm IST - MAYILADUTHURAI

A picture of a house where five members of a family reside in the Narikkuravar Colony of Pallavarayanpettai in Mayiladuthurai.

A picture of a house where five members of a family reside in the Narikkuravar Colony of Pallavarayanpettai in Mayiladuthurai. | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

For years, the tribal settlement in Pallavarayanpettai’s Narikkuravar Colony has been grappling with a lack of proper housing, adequate toilets, and other basic amenities.

The nomadic tribes, locally referred to as ‘Vahiri’ due to their unique ‘Vahiri poli’ language — a blend of various languages, including Hindi and Tamil — have resided in this area for decades. In 2022, the government reclassified the community from the MBC (Most Backward Class) category to ST (Scheduled Tribes) category.

In 2003, after prolonged efforts, the residents were allotted land titles and funds for housing under the Indira Awas Yojana, a Central government housing scheme, benefiting 60 families. However, two decades later, the number of families has grown to 80, leaving 20 families without houses. These families have set up small tents between the existing houses, creating a space crunch as families continue to expand. Most of the community lacks proper toilet facilities and relies on the toilets available at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Residential School.

The tribal settlement does not have a playground or community hall. R. Ranjith Kumar, a 17-year-old resident, lives in very close proximity with 10 family members and cites the lack of privacy as a major concern.

“Our house was allotted under the scheme in 2003, but as both my elder brother and sister got married, they set up small tents close to our house with their children. When it rains, it becomes unbearable for us. Quarrels happen frequently, leading to mental discomfort and irritation,” he said.

S. Ramba, a B.Sc, B.Ed graduate from the community, highlighted the challenges faced by another family. “We have a family here with four members, including two sons and a daughter, who is in class 11. The mother wants privacy for her daughter, but they all have to live in a single room,” she explained.

Ms. Ramba also pointed out that the community no longer prefers open defecation and now prefers adequate toilets, among other basic amenities.

“A majority of the community sells toys and bangles here. Despite being classified as ST, we have not enjoyed the benefits as no special amenities have been provided for us here,” she stated.

R. Vijaysundaram, from NEED Trust, which has been working with the community, emphasized the need for comprehensive development. “The community is still consciously backward. Adequate housing, a playground, a community hall, and proper toilet facilities are essential for their development. These improvements would help raise their standard of living helping them to integrate them into mainstream society,” he said.

When contacted by The Hindu, a district-level official from the tribal welfare department said a proposal for allotting land titles to the remaining families is going on.

The official assured that an inspection would be conducted to assess and address the community’s demands.

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