VILLUPURAM: In the centenary year of the Villupuram municipality, a colony housing around 3,000 Dalit families hopes to finally wake up to development projects. A portion of the Rs 50-crore fund, allocated for the municipality, will be used to develop the area is the promise.
GRP street in Villupuram, also known as the Periyar colony, has struggled with poor infrastructure - the damaged roads in particular.
Residents blame it all on caste-based discrimination.
GRP street stretches from the four-road signal to the market in Villupuram. It includes three major streets - Nandanar street, Arundhathiyar street and GRP street. The residents don't hold a land or house patta.
A 24-year-old resident, Suman, told The New Indian Express, "The area has been stigmatised and selectively neglected by the authorities because Dalits reside here. No other area in the district will be kept dirty and nasty like ours. Even the garbage is picked up only once a week at Arundhathiyar street."
Mahalakshmi* named changed, 34, a resident of Arundhathiyar colony, said, "None of us here has a house or land patta. Though we have been living here for generations we are all temporary citizens. We are tired of giving petitions to the authorities. Politicians seldom visit our area. Even if they do, their promises are written in water."
Express visited the area during the rainy season in the months of November and December 2019 to assess the situation.
The road behind the Arundhathiyar street was waterlogged with a mix of drain and rain water. This was the condition for two months, but no municipality workers came to clean it, said residents.
Sivakumar, 30, alleged that "behind our house there is a well that is actually a dumpyard for the colony. It stinks all year and nobody cleans it for us nor can we begin cleaning it because we need high-level earthmovers to do this. We had raised this during grievance-day meetings in the past but no action was taken."
The streets are used as toilets.There are no toilets in most of the houses. An empty abandoned co-operative building now serves as an open toilet, sources said.
On January 26, Viluppuram MP Ravikumar visited the colony and received petitions from the residents.
Ravikumar said, "In the centenary year of the municipality, it is disheartening to see people live in such disastrous conditions. The state government must allot funds for the development of Periyar colony."
When contacted, municipality commissioner V Dakshinamoorthy said, "Plans to renew the roads in GRP and Vazhuthareddy colony areas are underway and a part of Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for the project. The centenary year development fund will provide road facilities for all streets in the district."