Non-cooperation from officials: Keeripatti panchayat chief
THE HINDU Keeripatti panchayat president, M. Baluchamy near a sanitary
complex in the Dalit colony of his panchayat, which has been kept
locked in the absence of power since 2006-07. His name on the plaque
has been erased. Photo: G. Moorthy
The Dalit president of the Keeripatti panchayat, M. Baluchamy, feels
stifled by non-cooperation from some officials.
On one side he is pressured by residents seeking favours while on the
other there is cold response from officials to his recommendations.
Keeripatti is one of the four reserved panchayats, where elections
could not be held due to non-cooperation to the rotational reservation
policy by the caste Hindus.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government earned appreciation for
restoring the democratic set up in Pappapatti, Keeripatti and
Nattamangalam (all in Madurai district) and Kottakatchiyendal (in
Mr. Baluchamy says he is not consulted on selection of works under the
Anaithu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam. Free cooking gas stoves have
not been distributed and his recommendations for old age pensions not
honoured by officials. Works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Scheme are not being allotted regularly.
A community hall constructed with special funds given by the Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam in 2007-08 and a sanitary built in 2006-07 in a
Dalit colony are yet to get power connection. He attributes it to lack
of cooperation from officials. "The toilet has been left unused for
three years because water cannot be pumped to the overhead tank
without power." Same is the case with the new office building for the
panchayat and a ration shop constructed in 2007-08. The office still
functions from the old building for want of power supply in the new
building and the new ration shop has got electricity supply from the
panchayat office. Officials refused to even look into his
recommendation to remove an encroachment. "Instead, I was asked to
adjust with the local people," he alleges. Gram sabha meetings are
attended by a handful of people, mostly Dalits. "After the meetings
are over, we get signatures of others in the minutes book."
On top of it, the special monthly meetings conducted by the district
administration for presidents of three reserved panchayats of
Pappapatti, Keeripatti and Nattamangalam have not been held for
several months, he alleges.
The Pappapatti panchayat president, Periyakaruppan, endorses his allegation.
He feels that the very reservation system that enabled him to become a
panchayat president, after two terms of boycott of elections by caste
Hindus, had not brought about much difference in the lives of Dalits
there. All that he is satisfied with is that he is allowed to sit on
the president's chair, where once Dalits were not even allowed to walk
When contacted, Usilampatti Tahsildar V. Baskaran said he had taken
charge only 15 days ago and the issues had not come to his notice.
Adi Dravidar Welfare Minister, A. Tamilarasi, was unaware of these
issues and said she would look into them immediately.
She said lack of funds with the panchayat could also have been a
reason for the absence of power supply. She would take up the issue
with the officials.
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