Seventeen people lost their lives after a compound wall of a building collapsed in a village in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu on Monday, 2 December, following heavy rains. The incident took place in Nadur village near Mettupalayam.
A portion of the over 15-foot high compound wall, damp due to heavy rains lashing the area for the past few days, came crashing down on the adjoining four tiled-roof houses in the Dalit settlement around 5 am on Monday, killing the 17, including ten women and two children.
The police on Tuesday, 3 December arrested S Sivasubramanian, the owner of a textile shop, the compound wall of whose building collapsed. Mettupalayam police have registered a case under section 304 A IPC [causing death by negligence] and section 4 of TNPPDL act against Sivasubramanian.
The deceased include 10 females, three males and two children. They have been identified as: Harisudha (16), Sivakami (45), Oviyammal (50), Nathiya (30), Vaidhegi (20), Thilagavathi (50), Arukani (55), Rukumani (40), Nivetha (18), Chinnamal (70); Guru (45), Ramnath(20), Anandh Kumar(40); and Akshaya (7), Loguram (7).
Families Take to Streets, Say Wall Constructed Illegally
Family members of the victims on Monday had taken to the streets demanding Sivasubramanian’s immediate arrest. The police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the protesters.
The family members of the victims alleged the construction of the wall was illegal and initially refused to accept the bodies.
About 500 local people had staged a sit-in on the Mettupalayam-Ooty road while protests were also held at the Mettupalayam government hospital where the post-mortem of the bodies was conducted demanding the arrest of the owner.
Around 25 people were arrested by the police following the lathi charge.
Later, nearly 80 members of various organisations were arrested for attempting to stage a protest seeking the release of 25 people detained.
Sixteen victims were cremated at the village late Monday night with state Minister SP Velumani among others attending the funeral, while the body of another person was taken to his nearby native village.
Reactions, Condolences Pour In
Amid demands for action under the SC and ST Act since the victims were Dalits, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami met the bereaved families at Nadur and described the incident as ‘painful’ and assured action against the owner in accordance with law based on proper inquiry.
He said orders had been issued to provide suitable jobs to the next of the kin of the deceased. He also said concrete houses will be constructed to replace the tiled roof structures in the Dalit settlement.
Earlier in the day, DMK chief MK Stalin visited the kin of the victims and consoled them. Later speaking to reporters, he claimed despite complaints from the villagers about the stability of the wall, the district collector and officials failed to take action, resulting in the incident.
Condemning the police action against the crowd at the hospital, Stalin said strict action should be taken against those responsible for the “brutal attack” on the villagers. He also sought increase in the solatium and government jobs to the members of families.
When asked Stalin’s remarks that the district administration failed to remove the wall despite complaints, Palaniswami said the former wanted to politicise each and every issue. The wall collapsed due to heavy rains and so where was the question of the government’s involvement in it, he added.
State Governor Banwarilal Purohit expressed grief over the incident.
“I convey my deep condolences to the bereaved members of the families,” he said in a message.
Tamil Nadu weatherman Pradeep John tweeted about how an extreme cloudburst in a short period in the Mettupalayam region caused aggravated rains.
“The peak rains happen at early mornings, with low around keep an eye on Coonoor-Mettupalayam belt again tomorrow morning” he tweeted.
Rains Wreak Havoc in Tamil Nadu
At least three people lost their lives over the last one week due to heavy rains in Tamil Nadu.
Weather reports predict heavy to moderate rains will continue across all districts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry next week. All schools and colleges will remain closed in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Tuticorin.
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has launched 24/7 helpline numbers for residents of the city to report water stagnation and flooding.
Residents can contact 044-25384520, 044-25384530, 044-25384540 or Whatsapp on 9445477205, which operates from the Ripon Building’s control room.
Boats have been stationed in 109 places in the city and 176 community halls and four common cooking-halls to cook for 1,500 people are already in place.
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