Monday, November 7, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalit village cut-off from road to development

Tamil Nadu | Posted on Nov 07, 2011 at 10:53am IST
Dalit village cut-off from road to development
indianexpress Express News Service , The New Indian Express

RAMANATHAPURAM: Cross a water channel, dive if it is raining cats and
dogs and slog through the path that would hardly pass for a road and
you are there. Welcome to Keela Allikulam located seven km from
Sayalkudi where proper transport and health facilities are still a
mirage.����� �

A tiny village with a population of 550, mostly Dalits, Keela
Allikulam has been longing for a regular bus service. Wading thr- ough
Sankaradevan Channel is an everyday affair for the villagers, who
otherwise have a second option to reach Sayalkudi - a shortcut covered
with bushes formed by Kattu karuvelam (a thorny plant).� �

But not many women and children would take that route as there have
been incidents wherein masked men waylaid women and snatched their
valuables. During the rains, water level in the channel is almost
neck-deep. So children refuse to go to school or do not reach on time
and eventually quit learning.

Like the transportation problems, health facilities in the village are
in shambles. There is no primary health centre to attend to emergency
cases. Most often patients have to be taken to Sayalkudi by auto for
exorbitant fares.

Forget health, even grocery items are not easy to get. Villagers have
to walk at least two km to procure essential commodities from the PDS
shop at Usilankulam. The villagers have been urging the government to
establish a PDS shop in their village itself, but so far nothing has

"Reaching school itself is a big ordeal. It is located far from the
village. After a point, I had to discontinue studies due to family
problems," said Valarmathi, a Keela Allikulam resident. A regular bus
service would at least help other students to attend the school
properly, she added.

Most of the villagers depend on agriculture for livelihood. They climb
palm trees for six months to sell palm juice. The village is fully
dependant on the Cauvery water for drinking purposes, while oorani
water is used for other chores.

"Life here is pathetic. Even a good hospital is not present in the
vicinity. We have to put up with all the problems as there is no other
option," Ramakrishnan said.

Sathaiah, Director of the Rural Workers' Development Society, said the
residents have been seeking basic facilities for the last several
years. At least a bridge should be constructed across the Sankaradevan
Channel to reach Sayalkudi safely during the rainy season. The
director added that his society had identified some dropouts in the
village and were making efforts to readmit them in schools.

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