Sanitation, healthcare are a far cry in this rehabilitation camp for Sri Lankan Tamils

The residents demands include a PHC and toilets with water facilities

Dwelling units in the size of 10×10 ft, public toilets without water facility, limited access to healthcare and absence of livelihood opportunities continue to mar the lives of 1,000-and-odd families at the rehabilitation camp for Sri Lankan Tamils at Bhavanisagar in the district.

A total of 1,055 families comprising 3,152 members have been residing in the camp located near the Bhavanisagar Dam for 30 years now. While many families live in a one-room house, a few continue to live in dilapidated houses hoping for the State government to construct a new one. “We are battling all odds as we are branded refugees here,” said K. Subramani, who resides in a 100 sq.ft. house with his children. While men work as painters and carpenters, a few women work in private companies.

Pigs roam freely near the public toilets that do not have overhead water tanks. The residents want new toilet blocks with water facilities.

“The toilets have no water connections and the doors are damaged. We feel unsafe while using the toilets,” said Sulochana, a resident.

Vijayarani, another resident, sought a primary health centre in the camp, as the nearest government hospital was at Sathyamangalam, which is 15 km away.

R. Srikanthan (39), who came from Chettikulam in Vavuniya district in Sri Lanka at the age of 10, said in the absence of citizenship, youths cannot apply for government jobs in the country. He runs a fast food joint and a photo studio in the camp. He is also involved in various welfare works in the camp.

“I have been here for 29 years and our main demand is citizenship to lead a normal life,” he said.

Many who had left for Australia and Canada are leading a decent life, he said.

N. Natraj, who heads the welfare association in the camp, said that Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s recent assistance package has rekindled the hopes of residents. He wanted the medical admission quota that was removed eight years ago to be restored. “Our children are deprived of opportunities. Steps should be taken to ensure government jobs for them,” he added.

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