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Legwork by leader brings basic amenities to an Irula hamlet

K. Padmavathy

K. Padmavathy

An entire village and its leader fought for very basic requirements — water and road — and secured them years after Independence.

The fruits of their labour, however, make all that they underwent worth it, they say.

Residents of Kulathumedu, an Irula hamlet near the Pulicat lake in Tiruvallur district, now have good drinking water and proper road access — the bare necessities that they did not have till a few decades ago.

“Every day after we sold fish in the market, we used to buy provisions and walk through over 3 feet of brackish water, keep the things at home and collect our pots and wade again across the lake to fetch drinking water. We would walk either to Pazhaverkadu or Edaimanikuppam, a kilometre away,” recalled K. Padmavathy, the wife of the former panchayat president, who was responsible for getting water supply to the village.

She remembered how during the 1990s, when Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister, she would leave her baby girl at home to go to the Collector’s office by bus as part of a group.

“It was in Kancheepuram. It took us several visits to get drinking water supply. We used to collect ₹1 from residents who could afford to pay towards incidental expenses. There were many who couldn’t afford to pay as well, but we managed with what was collected,” she said, adding that they were encouraged by the International Fund for Agricultural Development to go and meet government officials and get things done.

It is this organisation that also trained them in mud crab fattening. The women feed fish to the crabs, which fetch them a good income.

Road connectivity

It was through Ms. Padmavathy’s efforts that the village also got road connectivity, said Suman, a resident of Pulicat.

“She would tell us how she ran behind the convoy of a Minister and stopped the vehicles and told them of the misery of having to wade in water at all times if they had to get out of the village. The Minister is said to have sanctioned the road on the spot,” he said.

Ms. Padmavathy said she told them how it was inconvenient, especially for the women to lift up their clothes and walk in the water.

She is now working with the women of the village in mud crab fattening, a vocation the village is now known for.

“We have a ‘balwadi’ to meet the nutritional needs of mothers and children properly. Our next requirement is ‘patta’ for our homes. We have submitted petitions to the government, and are awaiting its response. In any such request to the government, a constant follow-up is necessary, and if our children are happy today, it is mainly because of the follow-ups that we have done over the years,” she said.


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 6:21:09 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/legwork-by-leader-brings-basic-amenities-to-an-irula-hamlet/article34397157.ece