CUDDALORE: The Intellectual Circle for Dalit Action (ICDA) alleged there was discrimination in relief to dalits in flood-hit Cuddalore district and demanded the Adi Dravidar Welfare Department included in disaster management.
The ICDA did field inquiries in 18 villages and found that dalits were most affected but had not received adequate assistance.
Anbu Selvam, who was in the field inquiry, said, “Just as the caste-based discrimination during relief distribution after disasters like the tsunami (2004) and Cyclone Thane (2011), this time too dalits and Irula tribes faced discrimination. We did not find a single relief camp where both dalits and non-dalits were sheltered and it was discrimination.”
The team had visited villages like Pudhuchathiram, Mission Street in Parangipettai, Thondamanatham, Onankuppam, Boothampadi, Pottaveli, Kalkunam, Karunguzhi and some other villages in Cuddalore district. The team had also visited some of the areas in towns.
“In most villages, relief materials could reach dalit villages only after overcoming the hurdles created by the dominant castes and local powerful politicians as both prevented or delayed the distribution. Moreover, unaffected dominant caste villagers cornered all the materials,” Selvam added.
ICDA also made suggestions in its report. It said “Landless farm labourers have not got any work for almost 40 days and they also do not foresee regular work for the next 6 months, so the government should fix a minimum relief amount and distribute it properly to them. Workers were brought to flood-hit areas from all over the state to remove garbage and clear the mess. Instead the government should encourage the affected citizens, irrespective of caste, to come out and involve in cleaning.”
ICDA also demanded the Centre-sponsored district level untouchability-removal programmes be conducted and schemes should be implemented strictly.