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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007
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IN A SHAMBLES: Grief-stricken Sri Lankan refugees are subsisting here rather than living for over a decade.
KANGAYAM: By any given standard the long, rectangular, asbestos-roofed hall is dark at noon. It was built to be that way, so that grains stored are safe free from rodents and thieves. That hall, though, has never seen a grain since its construction a few years ago at the Regulated Market, Kangayam. What it has instead accommodated are the rather heavy, grief-stricken hearts of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.
Twentyfive families in all inside the hall and another 45 outside. The houses of those inside are something like this - plastic sacks used for packing cement have been cut and stitched to make up for walls that are not more than seven feet high. All conceivable human activity takes place either inside the enclosures that are no bigger than six feet by six feet or adjacent to the building, in the open where the families share bathrooms.
As for the public convenience facility, the less said the better. For, there is none for the 70 families that are subsisting rather than living there for over a decade. Given the condition, the refugees use the 10-acre Regulated Market campus for open defecation.
This is one of the problems in the market’s over a decade old history at the current location. Ever since it moved over to the present location on the Karur Road-Muthur Road junction on December 13, 1996, the Market has not functioned till March 22, 2007. The reason farmers and traders cited, among others, was security. In a letter on April 16 to the Member of Legislative Assembly, Kangayam, farmers said in no uncertain terms that they as well as traders were concerned about the safety of sunflower, copra and other produce.
Citing poor infrastructure facilities and the presence of refugees at the market premises, the farmers demanded refugees’ relocation to resume trading. In its reply on June 23, 2007, the Government has said that an alternative will be chosen for construction of houses. What it has failed to say is when will the new land be identified and at what stage is the process in.
Meanwhile, the next sunflower season, according to sources at the market, is expected to begin this August. Given the poor condition of godowns and presence of refugees, the market people fear that they will miss yet another reason despite their propaganda among farmers to bring produces to Kanagayam market.
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