17 crushed to death as wall collapses in Dalit colony

Residents say the 20-foot compound wall at Nadur in Mettupalayam was raised around a property belonging to a businessman without the local body’s permission.

Published: 03rd December 2019 05:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2019 05:21 AM   |  A+A-

Debris of the wall that collapsed on three tiled-roof houses following heavy rain at Nadur in Mettupalayam on Monday | A RAJA CHIDAMBARAM

Express News Service

COIMBATORE: As many as 17 persons, including three children and 11 women, were buried alive when a 20-foot compound wall of a house collapsed following incessant rains and fell on three tiled-roof houses, bringing them down at Nadur village in Mettupalayam in the early hours of Monday.

A total of 300 Dalit families live in Kannappan Nagar in the village. The compound wall, constructed using basalt rock, was raised around the property belonging to Sivasubramaniam (60), who runs a textile shop near Mettupalayam bus stand.

Fire and rescue services personnel, along with the police, retrieved the bodies and sent them to Mettupalayam Government Hospital for post-mortem.

The deceased were identified as Gurusamy (45), P Sivakami (45), R Oviyammal (60), P Vaidegi (20), V Mangammal (60), Nivedha (18), Ramanathan (20), Rukmani (40), Anandh Kumar (40), his wife Nathiya (35), children Akshaya (7), Loguram (7), Harisudha (16), Thilagavathi (50), Arukani (55), Chinnammal (70) and Mahalakshmi (10).

Rukmani, who was a relative of Sivakami, had come on Sunday to visit the family. Thilagavathi and Mangammal, who were from the same street, were staying in Sivakami and Chinnamal’s houses.

Saraswathi (65), a woman living nearby, said, “We heard a loud thud around 4.40 am and came out, only to see the houses had collapsed. We did not hear anyone screaming for help.” R Sekar, who lives next to Sivasubramaniam’s house, said, “Eight years ago,  Sivasubramaniam had purchased the land adjacent to his house and raised the compound wall to 20 feet from eight feet. All of us objected to this fearing such tragedy might happen sometime. However, he raised the wall without any hassle as he is influential among the rich and his community.”

Abdulla, another resident, said, “If a resident wants to raise his compound wall to more than five feet, he should get permission from the local body. Despite opposition from the Dalits, the owner of the house raised the wall.” Palanisamy, husband of one of the victims, Sivakami, said, “Soon after the incident, we went to Sivasubramaniam’s house. But, he and his family were not in the house.” Collector K Rajamani ordered the remaining portion of the wall to be demolished. A case has been registered against Sivasubramaniam and a search is on to nab him,  police said.

CM grants Rs 4 lakh solatium
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has announced a solatium of Rs 4 lakh each to the bereaved families. He will be visiting Nadur on Tuesday afternoon, where he will hand over the solatium to the kin of the victims. Palaniswami also chaired a review meeting on the monsoon situation on Monday.

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