CHENNAI: After three generations of struggle, a tribal hamlet of 30 families in Chengalpattu district finally got access to the drinking water supply when a group of Madras Christian College students set up a water tank for them on Saturday.
As part of the fieldwork project, second-year master’s students of the Social Work Department of MCC were given the task of identifying hamlets without any basic facilities, six months ago. A team of seven students — Samuel D Jairaj, Amrish Selvarsan, Israel Douglas, Jacob Steyns, Jemiemol Ann Raju, Tharani, and Trinity Ruth Jency — identified this hamlet.
Located at Aminjikarai in Tirukazhukundram village, this hamlet lacked any basic amenities like housing, toilets, electricity, and water. The students said the water tank cost them around `6,500, including pipe connections and labour charges. “We submitted a report to the department and with the help of the professors, set up the tank. Earlier, they would fetch water from a nearby lake but it dried up recently. They had a public tap but that releases water only for half an hour a day,” said Samuel.
On days they faced water scarcity, they travelled up to 15 kilometres to fetch water. The condition of the lake, they used to rely upon, was also unhygienic due to the presence of mosquitoes. Amrish said they have written to the Minister of Tribal Affairs Kayalvizhi Selvaraj in hope of solutions. “We also approached the local panchayat and raised the issue with them. They too assured action,” he said. Last year, during Covid-19, they donated tarpaulin as part of their project work, added Amrish.
The tribals live in thatched houses that cannot withstand rains. Also, they do not have bathrooms. When TNIE brought this issue to the attention of the district revenue officials, they assured action. “We will make an assessment report and do the needful,” said a revenue official.