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14 Apr 2024, Edition - 3197, Sunday

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Anaikatti tribal hamlets battle for attention as voice goes unheard for eight long years

Umar Sharieef


For over seven years, the tribal community in Kondannur along with those in three other settlements in the Anaikatti region has been drinking borewell water, which it says is bad in quality. Their demand for clean water has remained unanswered by the authorities.

“We have got pipe connection to make use of Athikadavu water, but we just don’t get it. Just because we are tribes and away from the sight of authorities, should we be deprived of good drinking water supply,” asks Ravi, a former panchayat ward member.

Locals say they are forced to walk 2 km to fetch clean water, as they do not get it inside their hamlet. However, during monsoon, they collect rain water to beat the scarcity. But since there is no rainwater harvesting structure in any of the four settlements, it gets wasted

Situated along the Anaikatti hill region, the four settlements at Kondannur, Kondannur Pudhur, Kandivalli, Panapalli hamlets have a population of about 1,200. They have to wait for long for public transport or for an auto rickshaw to go inside their village. This is despite the fact that the roads are in good shape.

“Normally we spend Rs 10 to 20 per head to go to our village. But, the auto drivers here exploit us and demand even Rs 100 per head. We cannot shell out this since we are daily wagers and labourers in plantations,” said Vellangiri, a resident of Panapalli.

All the houses in these four settlements were constructed during the tenure of the late Karunanidhi and MGR as Chief Ministers

Palani, a former member of the local panchayat said, “These people are unaware of the diseases spread by drinking contaminated water.”

However, a social activist from the same hill region denied this. Joshua told The Covai Post: “There are very less chances for these people to get affected by drinking this water, as they have been do so for long.”

But he admits that the villages hardly get any government help and are denied several schemes.

There is no help from the government. Even the borewell motor here was restored by the village panchayat board, said a resident, on a condition of anonymity.

Residents say they have been fighting for their basic necessities and clean water supply, and there is much more needed to be done in these settlements.

Violation of rule

Their cry for attention does not end here. The villagers were in for a shock when a few youngsters on a motorbike hit a woman to death on June 24. Shobhana, an Irula woman was riding her two-wheeler when the disaster happened. Soon after her death, the villagers went on protest seeking closure of TASMAC fearing more mishaps. However, after their protest, a few TASMAC outlets were seen closed, though temporarily.

As per the rule 8 of Tamil Nadu, no liquor shop shall be established in any tribal areas covered under Integrated Tribal Development Project. But here it is otherwise as there are TASMACs established in the hamlets itself.

“We made sure that the TASMAC was closed, fearing more mishaps, but the that appears temporary,” says Irulandi, a senior citizen of Panapalli hamlet.

Their dream to shut the TASMAC in all the settlements in Anaikatti was short-lived. A few miscreants make toddy from coconut palms. When asked, the panchayat member says measures to stop all these will be executed in the days to come.

MLA’s reply

In an exclusive to The Covai Post, VC Arukutty, MLA of Kavundampalayam, said, “I haven’t received any complaints regarding the need of clean water supply. We have provided them with the borewell facilities. And, if the claim is real I will not neglect to inquire into it and bring about changes.”

About violation of rules by establishing TASMAC in tribal hamlets and resultant accidents, his reply was, “The reason to establish TASMAC there is to avoid drunk driving through the hills. There are many school students who fall prey to it. To avoid all that, TASMAC is established on the top”.

He, however, refused to answer multiple questions, but only said he would look into the water problem immediately

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