Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu - The devastating floods in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin have taken a grim turn, revealing a distressing scenario where assistance, particularly for Dalit and marginalized communities, appears to be falling short. As the floodwaters wreak havoc, areas predominantly inhabited by Dalits face acute challenges, with relief efforts struggling to reach these vulnerable communities. As many as 10 people were killed after heavy rain lashed several parts of southern districts in the last two days. Residents in certain areas find themselves in dire circumstances with no power, no network connectivity, and no access to food for the past three days. The situation remains highly traumatic as individuals are stranded in the streets, grappling with the challenges posed by the absence of basic necessities.
Villages such as Vannaatpettai, Vellakoil, Kal Kurichi, Kurundhudaiyaarpuram, Karuppandhurai, Thenpathu, Pattapathu, and Kunnathur, which are predominantly Dalit and Other Backward Classes (OBC) dominated, are grappling with the aftermath of the floods.
Unfortunately, caste discrimination seems to be adding another layer of complexity to the crisis, hindering the timely and equitable distribution of aid.
The Mooknayak spoke to Chennai based Dalit rights activist Shalin Maria Lawrence who narrated the plight of the christian and dalit families in the flood affected areas. She mentioned that volunteers are passing by, the government assistance is not reaching marginalized families adequately, particularly in areas where caste discrimination has been pervasive for an extended period.
Shalin who is in contact with Murugan Kanna, a volunteer aiding the recue work, said that Dalit and marginalized families in these areas are facing severe shortages of essential supplies, including water, food, and medicines. The floodwaters have not only submerged their homes but also exposed them to a discriminatory distribution of relief resources, leaving them stranded in their hour of need.
Despite the Tamil Nadu government's efforts, there are disturbing accounts of delayed and insufficient assistance reaching these vulnerable communities. The repercussions of this situation are dire, with families struggling to cope with the dual challenges of a natural disaster and societal biases. Many patients admitted to the Thoothukudi medical college hospital are getting themselves discharged claiming that there is no water to drink, no water in the bathroom and no food. New parents are forced to carry their infants and wade through hip level water in risky conditions.
Advocacy groups and concerned citizens are calling for increased attention to these marginalized communities, urging authorities to ensure that relief efforts are not only swift but also reach every corner of these flood-affected regions.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin visited a relief center on Thursday to distribute essential relief items to the flood-affected people in Thoothukudi. During his visit, he took stock of the situation and declared the need for urgent and comprehensive relief efforts.
In a plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister MK Stalin requested the declaration of the damage caused by the Michaung storm and heavy rain as a national calamity. He emphasized the need for a disaster relief fund to aid the recovery efforts in the southern districts, citing the historical nature of the damage not witnessed in the past century.
Stalin detailed the ongoing relief measures, mentioning the deployment of ministers, IAS officers, and specialized rescue teams. Helicopters are being utilized to distribute food in flooded areas, and shelters have been set up to accommodate the displaced population.
Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena, addressing the media, criticized the India Meteorological Department's (IMD) forecast, stating that the prediction of heavy rain was inaccurate, leading to the unexpected crisis in the affected districts.
Following the recent rains in southern districts, officials from the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board stated on Wednesday that it will likely take a minimum of two weeks to restore around 150 infiltration wells. These wells are a crucial part of the Thamirabarani Combined Water Supply Schemes (CWSS). Additionally, efforts are underway to resume power supply to motors, wells, and sumps in the affected areas.
To address the immediate water scarcity concerns, TWAD has advised the district administrations of Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, and Virudhunagar to explore alternative sources for drinking water. As recovery operations are in progress, residents are encouraged to seek alternative water options during this challenging period.