VILLUPURAM: For years, government jobs, welfare measures and Constitutional reservation remained elusive to these members of Irula tribal community for the want of community certificate. Following a report which appeared in Express dated December 25, 2019, highlighting a four-year struggle of the tribals residing at Jakkampettai in Tindivanam in obtaining the certificates, officials initiated action. On Monday, Sub-Collector S Anu distributed certificates to 24 members of the community.
Members of the community were in tears of joy after receiving the certificate, as it could wipe off their decades-long misery and help lead a dignified life. The document will help them pursue education and employment in government institutions. Express had carried an article on their poor living conditions in the Jakkampettai settlement. On December 24, a woman from the settlement died since the area is located far from the main road and ambulance could not take her to hospital in time. Also, they had to wade through agricultural fields to reach the burial ground as they had no other route.
On January 25, 2020, the Sub-Collector visited the settlement and initiated the process to issue community certificate. Meanwhile, the process got delayed as the pandemic hit. However, the certificates were issued on Monday. S Bhubaneswari, a class VII student from the settlement who received her community certificate, said, “I will become a Collector like the one who issued us the certificates, so that none of our people will have to suffer. I am excited and relieved on seeing my community certificate. Last year, my mother had to fall at the feet of my teacher to get me admitted in the school without a certificate.”
About 12 families are residing in the settlement. None of them finished school for want of the certificate.
The settlement was identified and welfare measures were facilitated by the Tribal Irula Protection of Rights Association, headed by activist Pirava Kalvimani, and STEPS, a non-profit organization. “It is always fulfilling to see the Constitutional provisions properly implemented for the development of marginalised communities. This is one such move, where 24 of them received the certificates. Now, the prospects for their education will get a leg-up,” said V Boopalan, a member of STEPS.