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'The tsunami helped me get married'

Last updated on: February 27, 2006 23:56 IST

The Melamanakudi temporary tsunami camp in Kanyakumari district is a noisy melee of people where radio and television broadcasts compete for attention.

Helen, who looks sad and lost, says she has just married and candidly confesses: "I am 32. No one wanted to marry me. My mother died in the tsunami. I got a lakh (Rs 100,000)from the Tamil Nadu government. This helped me get married. But I haven't got the one lakh promised by the central government. Do you know when I will get it?"

Kanyakumari District Collector Sunil Paliwal, who is in charge of disbursement of compensation, says 69 such cases are still pending with the central government and assures this correspondent that the money will definitely come.

Viji, an educated girl in her early 20s, got married on January 20. She too lost her mother to the tsunami and received one lakh from the chief minister's relief fund and another lakh from the prime minister's relief fund.

She is waiting for the additional Rs 3 lakhs (Rs 300,000) that the chief minister had promised orphans who had no one to look after them. Viji lost her father early in life and had been staying with her brother just before her marriage.

After the tsunami she had moved to an adolescent's home that the government had set up. Many young women in Kanyakumari district lost both their parents to the tsunami. Some had lost one parent earlier and lost the other to the tsunami. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa did not differentiate among such cases and declared that both categories of young women would benefit from government support.

Orphans would either receive Rs 300,000 or Rs 500,000 -- those under 18 would get Rs 500,000 and those between 18 and 35 would get Rs 300,000. This was over and above the earlier compensation they received from the chief minister's fund and prime minister's relief fund.

The earlier compensation -- from the chief minister's fund and prime minister's relief fund -- was shared among all surviving heirs. But this amount is for every individual child. So if a family left behind two heirs, both would be entitled to this compensation. This money is not being given in cash like the earlier amount. It is in the form of bonds -- fixed deposit bonds of the money that the government has deposited in government undertakings.

The money cannot make up for the loss of one's parents but it can definitely make the child more secure.

A Ganesh Nadar in Kanyakumari