TIRUCHY: Around 35 families at Thirupparaithurai in the district live under a cloud of uncertainty as their settlement on HR&CE department-owned land has been deprived of basic amenities – including electricity – ever since the local panchayat arranged for the resettlement of the temple workers following an eviction some 14 years ago.
Despite multiple petitions with the district collector and requests to the HR&CE department, we continue to be ignored, the families rue. Mentioning their ancestors to have come down from various parts of the district and Karur around 150 years ago to work at the centuries-old Tharugavaneshwarar temple in Thirupparaithurai, the residents of the settlement added that they then settled down along the Tiruchy-Karur national highway, in proximity to the temple.
About fourteen years ago the widening of the highway was taken up, due to which they were evicted. With the intervention of the panchayat administration, the families said they were temporarily shifted to the temple’s unused 'nandavanam' -- a parcel of land for flower gardening -- where they have been residing since. In an interaction with TNIE, residents Saroja K (70), Sonambal S (75) and Shankar S (30) said that while several of the families, whose members worked as guards and maids at the Shiva temple, set up huts in the 'nandavanam', none of them could secure an electricity connection till date.
They hence are forced to rely on solar-powered lights and fans, which the residents said are of little value during rainy days. For charging mobile phones the residents said that they hand them over to their relatives, who reside elsewhere in the panchayat, or take the help of the nearby railway guard. Open defecation is also rampant in the locality with no roads, they added.
When approached, Thirupparaithurai panchayat president TNP Prakasam Murthy said, "Earlier there were 84 residents (at the 'nandavanam'). Due to lack of amenities some of them moved in to their relatives’ houses in other areas. We requested the HR&CE department to at least treat them as tenants but they refused. We also urged the Collectorate to intervene and allocate alternative space for the residents." On the matter a rural development department official said, "We have tried our best.
The place falls under the HR&CE department and they are not allowing us to provide them with electricity or water supply. As the panchayat has no vacant land we couldn’t shift them to a new place either." When enquired, an HR&CE official in Tiruchy pointed out that the parcel of land in contention belonged to the temple and said that going by the books, no developmental activities could be taken up there. Sources from the Collectorate said they are aware of the matter but added that they are yet to take a call on it.