VELLORE: Basic amenities remain a pipe dream for the Lankan Tamils living in the refugee camps in Banavram near Arakkonam for over two decades now.
With about 90 families living in the Banavaram camp, since the last six months, they have been denied drinking water by the local bodies.
“Many petitions have been submitted to the authorities but still we are living in these pathetic conditions,” said S Sivakaran, a refugee camp leader.
He added” “Water was supplied to the refugee camps from the well which was used for agriculture purpose in Banavaram village. But due to water shortage in the past six months, the village panchayat has put restrictions on collecting water from the well. Further, power supply to the camp was unavailable for most part of the day. There is only one electricity meter for 90 families.”
Angelina,(36), said, “Women are suffering in the camp, because it lacks basic toilets and bathing facilities. People have to openly defecate as we have no other option. In the camp, we have public toilet but without water.”
Banavaram village panchayat president M Bharathi Mani said the Sri Lankan refugee camps were stealing their share of water. We have a bore well at Katumalai, which is used for the villagers. However, the Sri Lankan refugees use illegal pipelines which lead to water shortage. But now that this shall come to a stop, he added. “They have a separate bore well in their camp which is not maintained and is under repair. On one occasion I repaired the motor bearing the cost on my own and now again they stand before me for help. But now I am helpless,” he said.
A 36-year-old daily wage labourer said,”There are no street lights and people get bitten by snakes and many poisonous insects. School students studying in nearby Banavaram boys and girls higher secondary school are also affected because they cannot study in the evening without light.”
The refugees handed over the petition to the District Collector R Nanthagopal on Monday.
The people who came to give petition said, “The Collector has assured that he will send the Revenue Divisional Officer to the site to inspect the state of affairs.”