For about a month now, Dalits in Senguttaipalayam, a village in Varadanur panchayat of Pollachi, have not been allowed to use the only public toilet in the area because caste Hindus built a temple opposite it.
They were then forced to use an open field to relieve themselves, but because a portion of the temple falls along the path that leads to the field, the caste Hindus have now blocked the path too.
A part of the temple falls on the path along the Parambikulam-Aliyar project canal, which led to the field where Dalit women and children went to relieve themselves, as they were barred from using the public toilet.
“This temple came up around a month ago. We use that road to go to the fields and now they have blocked the path using a thorn fence. We earlier used the public toilet opposite the temple. But since the temple was built, they don’t let us use that,” said a Dalit woman from the village, requesting anonymity.
V Thambu, the District Organiser of Makkal Viduthalai Munnani, on Monday, presented a letter to the sub-collector of Pollachi on behalf of the affected villagers. The letter stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat scheme has not been implemented in the village till date.
The Swachh Bharat Mission grants Rs 12,000 to each Individual household latrine for families to build their own toilets in villages.
“There are around 150 Dalit families in the village and the road on which the temple is located has been blocked by the caste Hindus who built the temple. I have given numerous petitions regarding the construction of another public toilet in this village to all the concerned officers up to the sub-collector level. But they told me that they have no power to approve the project. They asked me to present a requisition for the allocation of the amount under the Swachh Bharat scheme. I gave petitions for that too, but have not received a response till date,” he told TNM.
“We need toilets and have been struggling for quite some time now. Nobody responds to our petitions requesting sanctions and now they block the road also,” lamented the woman.
The letter also states that a burial ground of around 1.75 acres, which was allocated to Dalits, has been encroached upon by a Mani Durai in the village.
“I had given petitions asking the Village Administrative Officer, Jeevanandam, to take strict action against Mani Durai, but he replied saying that he has no right to do anything about it. How can a Village Administrative Officer say that he has no power to take action?” asked Thambu.
The Pollachi sub-collector office told TNM that the letter was received on Monday and forwarded to the Kinathukadavu Tahsildar for an enquiry.