Thursday, December 30, 2004

Project Update :: Irula - Bharathi Trust (Sanjeev)

Dear Friends,

I have been able to speak to Siddhamma who has given me an idea of the extent of damage to the Irula fishermen tribes due to the Tsunami inTiruvallur and Pitchavaram (in Cuddalore).

Siddhamma is an Asha fellow and the coordinator of Bharathi Trust.

The primary work has been with the Irula tribes.

1) Tiruvallur Pazhaverkadu (around Pulligat lake)

Near the lake there are 30 fishermen villages. 16-20 of these villages have been affected.

This include 2 Irula villages which were directly on the shore.
a) Pettai - 55 families. No loss of life, the village has beencompletely washed out. Houses, boats, all belongings.
b) Sengaiamna Nagar - 60 familes, 2 people died. lost all property

Two other villages which were on the other side of the lake were less hit:
a) Rajaratna Nagar (Kallu Kadu Medu) - 40 fishermen families, did not loosehouses or lives. But have lost fishing boats and nets.
b) Kolathumadu - 300 families (Irulas) Lost all fishing boats and nets.

Present status:
Govt has taken responsibility so far everyone has been provided reliefin Punnari City in 8 Kalyana Mandapams (Marriage Halls). But, now they want the people to go back to their villages and jobs. Supposed to go back today, but due to the warning of a relash the govt let them stay for one more day.

The present state is quite unsanitary since over 1000 ppl are put up in one building. There was even a 3 day baby who had flies all over her face.

Cholera is common in this area. There is no drinking ground water and they need to get water from the Punnari area.

Immediate relief:
The people are too shocked and can't go to work. They also do not have boats and nets. They don't need immediate rehab since it'sunlikely they will be in any state to work in the next couple of weeks. Hoping to get rehab from govt since the boats are quite expensive. They want to get through the next 15 days and need rice to survive.

Some info on Govt rehab:
The ppl need to provide proof and documents to claim something. Even for people who died. These ppl have have lost everything. They don't have bills to prove that they owned Catamarans (boats) and nets.This is going to take time. We have to talk to the govt to get this. If this doesn't work it may be very tough. The families of 2 people who died got relief from govt yesterday. Check of 1 lakh for each family. They had to pay bank charges/service charge of the order of Rs.3,500. Govt plan to give Rs. 2000 per house if they are found eligible. Will have to work with the govt to help them understand the situation.It has been an effort talking to the govt officers - all fishermen all around the coast have lost their nets. These can, however, be produced by organizing the fisherwomen together. This would really help and be cheap if the govt can just give the initial support. But, this doesn't fall in the documents that the govt officials are supposed to give relief to. Now there is a scheme to give loan to purchase a boat. These ppl have lost everything how can they possibly pay back a loan.

Estimates on the immediate requirements:
Kolathumadu = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 300 families = 7500 kg rice.
Rajaratna = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 40 families = 1000 kg rice.

Everyone in Pettai and Sengaiamna Nagar will have to stay at Kolathumaduand Rajaratna Nagar. Again for them:
Pettai = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 55 families = 1375 kg rice
Sengaiamna = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 60 families = 1500 kg rice

The quote for rice she has is Rs.15/kg. This works out to a total of 1.7 lakhs that would be required for immediate relief. I spoke to her of the possibility of one of the orgs in Chennai sending the rice which may be faster and she welcomed any coordination that we can do. They are located 60 km from Chennai. I spoke to her of the concern of water being a big problem and she said that they need to get that from around here and there may be other issues, but we are not going to know that till we go there tomorrow. I think I murmured something about this not being a good idea to which she said where else will we go?

2) Pitchavaram - Cuddalore, next to Chidambaram (23 km)

Pango is planted here (it's a plant that is supposed to protect soil-erosion). On one side is the forest and on the other side is the shore.

The general area is called Killai and is the fishermen area. We visited this area becase we have been working with them as a part of the Unorganized Workers Union.

This area is closer to the main road but people have lost both property and lives.

a) Pillainedu - Village - 85 fishermen familes. washed out. 40 ppl killed, 10 not traced even as yet. Interior village (not on main road).

One big problem here has been that the Govt has not taken responsibilities of tracing bodies. Met all the families who lost so many ppl. The govt has not registered any survey yet and this is needed asap. They are waiting for the govt.

Lost everything, fishing nets, boats etc. Mentally completely lost, can't go back to work, met one man who is not able to trace out son's body andis scared to go back to sea. They are staying in Killai area further from the main roads. Temp huts/acco needed.

Rs. 1000 each for temp housing. 50 kg of rice for them. Vessels we will collect from Chennai.

Q: I asked her why the amount of rice was so small.
Since they were directly effected they are expecting the govt to help out.

March there is the +2 exam lost all books. 100 children lost everything.Organized the youth who have lost their livelyhood as well to help give tution to these children and also work on a list of what is required.

Q: I asked about the closest govt officials and relief.
There is a police station in Killai (near main road area) and one office is set up inside there. Was talking to the RDO (Revenue Directing Officer) don't know who will be incharge.

In the Kalyana Mandapam in Killai there are are communities from many other affected villages:
Kannaginagar - 10 familes - 2 died. One child not been able to trace the body.Same situation as Pillainedu. Don't know what to do and are too shocked to even speak.
Chinnavoyal - 50 families - 15 ppl died. Same situation.
MGR Vidal - 170 familes - 50 ppl have died in the village. 18 ppl not traceable till now.
Malukku Thurai - 150 families - 6 ppl died. Managed to recover all bodies.
Other Irula village in this area have lost nets and boats.
MGR Nagar - 150 familes - 8 ppl have died, 6 bodies found.17 have lost everything as they were closer to the shore. Can't go back to work. Need temp food arrangement.
Kalangial Nagar - 160 familes - same situation as Pillainedu. They also lost nets and boats. There is also no light in the village.

I'll post more details as I get them.