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Tsunami-hit TN village gets a raw deal
Sovi Vidyadharan in Devanampattinam (TN) | December 21, 2005 14:27 IST
Once in the limelight after being adopted by film star Vivek Oberoi for post-tsunami rehabilitation, Devanampattinam -- a tiny fishing hamlet in Cuddalore district -- is now the living symbol of how survivors have been handed down a raw deal in a clash of egos between the government and an non governmental organisation.
Nearly a year after surviving the immense destruction brought out by the December 26 disaster, scores of fisherfolk in Devanampattinam are still huddled in rows of temporary shacks staring helplessly at their leaking thatched roofs, as rains pound down heavily over their heads.
These browbeaten fisherfolk, who saw a glimmer of hope when Oberoi adopted the village and launched his housing programme, now find themselves victims of the war of words between the star and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on the question of who deserved credit for tsunami rehabilitation.
Jayalalithaa had accused Oberoi of overstating his tsunami relief work under the name of 'Project Hope' to gain publicity and accused the actor of deriving "maximum publicity" for doing "nothing tangible".
What was Devanampattinam's loss turned out to be Pondicherry's gain as the actor moved his housing project to the neighboring Union territory where he recently finished reconstruction of around 100 dwellings. Oberoi had cited "land ownership hitches" and "red tapism" in Tamil Nadu as the reason for his decision.
In Cuddalore district, which witnessed around 500 deaths in the tsunami, the state government's initial promises of shifting the tsunami-affected to permanent shelters before the onset of rains have now been proved hollow as only less than half of the required 643 pucca houses required have been completed.