Destroyed by nature, unseen by authorities The plight of a tribal village

The devastating cyclone, Vardah, hit Tiruvallur district which is in the north of Chennai on 12th December, with a speed of over 100 kilometers per hour. It uprooted trees, flattened houses, destroyed roads, and downed power lines.

The effects of cyclone were clearly seen even after three weeks in a small settlement of Irular tribes. This settlement is situated beside the village Vembedu which is in Uthukottai taluk of Tiruvallur district, which is about 52 kilometers away from Chennai.

The village has mud houses with thatched roofs, and most of them were destroyed in the cyclone. The villagers are now rebuilding them.

Most of them, who work for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), did not receive their pay of, Rs.100 a day, since Diwali.

From October to December heavy rains are a common occurrence in Tamil Nadu. The large part of the Irulars have managed to deal with incessant rains and leaky roofs. This time it was different.

Even after three weeks, one can still hear the trauma in their tones. The thatched roofs were blown away and the houses stood bare and uninhabitable. The villagers are repairing them.

In this havoc, Lakshmi, who is a resident of the village, was in labour under one of these roofs, which threatened to give away any minute.

She gave birth to a girl in darkness, helped by her neighbours and friends as the wind and the rain destroyed the village outside.

“We called an ambulance, but by the time it arrived she had already delivered the baby,” Said a friend of Lakshmi.

The nearest health centre is five kilometres away. And the one in Vembedu has no ambulance services. The locals end up walking, or take the lone bus route on which plies one bus at 12 in the noon.

Now, more than three weeks after the cyclone, even the power lines which light the streets, leaving the houses in the dark, are still not repaired. they still do not have electricity, or drinking water. During the cyclone, the water tankers’ pipes were busted. Now they use a small muddy pond to fetch water.

However, Vembedu, a Reddiyar settlement which is two Kilometres away from the Irular settlement, has recieved attention from the government authorities and have restored the power and water.


Tadi Vidura

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