Some Progress After Newsclick Reports Tribal Issues
Recently, two of Newsclick’s video coverage from Tamil Nadu resulted in positive steps for the people concerned. We reported on two highly impoverished communities - denotified Narikuravar tribe and the scheduled tribe Irular - who were living without basic amenities and struggling for house-site pattas.
A short span after the Narikuravar video was released, roads were laid in their locality, and sewer overflow was contained. Likewise, after watching the Irular people’s plight, a group of social activists travelled from Chennai to Kanchipuram to help them with their material needs and support their struggles.
Newsclick has been keeping an eye out on deprived sections and covering livelihood issues of downtrodden people that are little reported. These have resulted in good responses from civil society and political groups.
Notably, this Diwali Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin visited Irular and Narikuravar tenements in Poonjeri village near Thirukazhukundram in Chengalpattu district, and distributed house pattas and other welfare aid.
NEW ROADS FOR NARIKURAVAR LOCALITY
Around 110 Narikuravar families live in a locality allotted for them in Thirumullaivoyal, a suburb of Chennai. Newsclick visited them immediately after the massive COVID-19 wave in summer this year and reported on their bleak lives without basic amenities.
The Newsclick video published on July 19 visually showcased the poor plight of these families without concrete houses, limited water facilities, poor roads and no drainage system.
The earlier sewer and waterlogged Narikuravar settlement.
Newsclick journalist Lakshmi Kanth Bharathi tweeted regarding the same and mentioned Avadi MLA Nasar in it. Although there was no response from him, the cement road was laid over the next two months, and it was inaugurated on September 26.
Pushpa, a community member, said, "For 40 years, we fought for tar roads in our locality. Although it was sanctioned but was delayed for a long time. Only two months back, the roads were laid."
She added, "Along with laying roads, the issue of sewer overflow on the pathway was also addressed."
MLA Nasar inaugurating the new road. Image courtesy: Nasar S M
However, the big demands of concrete houses and house-site pattas are still a long way away. Moreover, they are waging a long battle for ST status, with the hope to improve their living conditions and representations.
Narikuravars are former nomadic tribe people that lived off hunting. But, they are now predominantly in urban centres living off making bead products, selling small utility products on roadsides and picking metal scrap.
MATERIAL NEEDS AND SOLIDARITY FOR IRULAS
In an Irular settlement in Kanchipuram.
On September 21, Newsclick published a video on the sufferings of the Irular tribes in the Kanchipuram district. Upon watching the video, a group of retired BSNL employees approached Tamil Nadu Tribals Association (TNTA) and reached out to the distressed tribal people.
The retired employees and their extended fraternity were helping deprived sections during the lockdown period under the name Nalam Seya Virumbu (do good). They visited one of the Irular habitats in Kanchipuram and distributed groceries to 45 families. They held an outdoor meeting to hear their problems and extended support to the struggle for house-site pattas.
Retired trade union activists visit Irular settlement. Image courtesy: Latha
Latha, one of the activists, said, "We got to know about the poor plight of the Irulas through a Newsclick video. We decided to extend whatever help we could during the pandemic period, so we gathered our resources and went to meet them."
Notably, this is the same tribe portrayed in the recent Tamil movie Jai Bhim.
Newsclick has been continuously reporting livelihood and habitat issues of Irulars and other tribes.
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