Print edition : December 14, 2012

District Collector R. Lilly: "We will be conducting a series of sensitisation programmes."-E. LAKSHMI NARAYANAN

Interview with Collector R. Lilly.

DHARMAPURI District Collector R. Lilly was in the midst of a series of meetings with Chairman P.L. Punia and members of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes when Frontline sought an interview with her. After some reluctance, she gave a detailed account of the rehabilitation measures her administration had initiated immediately after the violence occurred. Excerpts:

What are the rehabilitation measures that have been initiated in the three Dalit colonies in Naikkankottai village that suffered extensive damage in mob violence?

Implementation of the rehabilitation package to restore their destroyed livelihoods and rebuild and repair their homes is already on in the three colonies. The damage to houses has been classified under three categories: fully damaged, partially damaged and extensively damaged.

CHILDREN OF NATHAM colony boarding a police bus to go to school.-

Accordingly, an estimate has been prepared and the same has been sent to the government for its approval. A total of 268 houses bore the brunt of the mob attack. Of these, 40 have been fully damaged and need to be rebuilt. Another 175 need repairs.

The victims claim that the loss of property and belongings are huge. What is the estimated extent of loss?

Our preliminary report puts the total loss in all the three colonies at Rs.6.95 crore. Revenue and police officials are working overtime on the field to verify the claims of losses of household utensils, dresses, furniture, valuables such as gold and silver jewellery, vehicles and hard cash. I am waiting for the final report.

Do you have enough funds to carry out the massive rehabilitation exercise?

There is no dearth of funds. The government is ready to sanction any amount. Besides, we have an internal system of mobilising funds from various departments such as TAHDCO [Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Corporation] and State and Central schemes that are being implemented in the district. We have already taken measures to provide drinking water, restore power lines and streetlights and provide temporary toilets. We can also utilise the existing annual funds from the Socio-Economic Development Programme [SEDP], meant for the development of 32 naxal-affected pockets, such as Naikkankottai, in the district. The Chief Minister immediately sanctioned a solatium of Rs.50,000 to each of the 268 victims. Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan has disbursed the amount. When the governments approval comes, we can disburse the full compensation amount as per its recommendations and also under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Social activists who visited the colonies claim that children are the worst affected. Has your administration initiated any special relief package for them?

The children have gone back to schools, and on a request from college students, we have provided special security in town buses for a specific period. We have also organised counselling sessions for the fear-struck children. New school uniforms and books and notebooks have been distributed. We have decided to involve UNICEF [United Nations Childrens Fund] in the rehabilitation exercise. We will be conducting a series of sensitisation programmes to boost the morale, especially of children, and stage skits and street plays to emphasise the importance of communal amity and humanism.

What are the other welfare programmes planned?

A special camp was organised to enable the victims to provide the details of documents such as educational and other certificates, bank passbooks and cooking gas connection papers, driving licences, voter ID cards and insurance certificates that have been lost. Steps would be taken to issue new ones through the departments concerned. A medical camp was held for 15 days. We shall coordinate with the police and evolve a special package to involve the youth in community works. We have almost mainstreamed them. We will restore their lives and livelihood.

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