Chennai: The construction of houses for the Scheduled Caste (SC) beneficiaries under the Prime Minister Awas Yojna (PMAY) scheme has been stalled in Gudimangalam in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district following complaints based on caste issue.
The state government had shortlisted beneficiaries under the PMAY scheme for people belonging to the Scheduled Caste Arunthathiyar community in Moongil Thozhavu village in Gudimangalam following their representation in 2014. Title documents were sanctioned to the people of the SC community in 2014 and in September 2021 approval was sanctioned for the construction of homes.
Suresh, a person belonging to the Arunthathiyar community in Gudimangalam while speaking to IANS said, “We are daily wage earners and don’t have a residence of our own. We applied to the state government for land and home in 2014 and we were sanctioned with title documents or ‘Patta’ of the land. The department officials conducted an inspection and granted permission to commence construction in September 2021.”
He said that when everything was clear, caste Hindus of the area intervened and said that they could not undertake construction as the property earmarked was close to a burial ground.
Suresh said, “The burial ground is used by the SC community and we don’t have a problem in constructing these homes and as far as our knowledge is concerned, these caste Hindus objected to our construction of homes as they don’t like us to be around.”
Interestingly the contractors, who have undertaken the construction work of the SC members under the PMAY scheme, have also suddenly backed out.
A contractor, who was doing the subsidiary work to the main contractor, on conditions of anonymity told IANS that the contractor and his staff were threatened by a group of caste Hindus.
The officials of the area, including the block officials who are responsible for allocating land and sanctioning funds under subsidy for the PMAY scheme, told IANS, said, “We are conducting an investigation as to why the contractor has stopped work midway. If it is clear that caste was the issue of the contractor backing out, then it is a serious issue and stringent action will be taken against all those concerned.”
While DMK and its Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin have been chest-thumping on the Dravidian model of development and social equality, in reality, the Tamil Nadu villages are confronting the issue of caste and are taking an ugly turn with people segregating others in the name of caste.