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A time to reflect, learn and acknowledge

Staff Reporter

Memorial meetings, processions mark first anniversary of tsunami



CANDLELIGHT VIGIL: Students observing silence at Good Shepherd Matriculation Higher Secondary School on Monday. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

CHENNAI: Students from 15 colleges and activists from several non-governmental organisations took out a symbolic candle light march around the Good Shepherd Matriculation School to mark the first anniversary of the tsunami that killed at least 1.5 million people across south Asia.

Coordinated by the Tamil Nadu Tsunami Resource Centre, the event included testimonies from students involved in rehabilitation work and an address by R. Santhanam, Special Commissioner and Commissioner of Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation Department. He said the tsunami had taught us the need to be prepared for disasters and build disaster-resistant houses.

A human chain drew attention to the pollution affecting tsunami survivors in Ennore. Arunodhaya, Centre for Street and Working Children, paid homage to the tsunami victims and protested the ill-effects of industrial pollution suffered by coastal communities. Members of the community, self-help groups and the Arunodhaya Youth Forum participated.

Unorganised workers demanded housing rights and livelihood assistance at meetings held in various kuppams throughout the day. The Unorganised Workers Federation held meetings at Kasimedu, Anna Nagar, Mattan Kuppam, Triplicane, Ayodhikuppam, Nadukkuppam through the afternoon and concluded by paying tribute to victims with a candlelight procession from Pattinapakkam to Nochikuppam in the evening. Residents from the areas complained that the housing issue had not been resolved and protested the forced evictions and lack of permanent housing. Several women demanded livelihood assistance as those in the unorganised sectors, such as fish vendors, tailors and those working on hand-embroidery, were not compensated for the loss of working equipment.

In another rally in north Chennai, 600 persons including women and children, took out a silent march organised by the Karunalaya Social Service Society, from Tondiarpet to Kasimedu fishing harbour. Some of the survivors recalled their suffering, while N. Paul Sunder Singh, director of the NGO, thanked the aid agencies.

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