NAGAPATTINAM: It has been a fortnight since schools were closed after Gaja made landfall in the coastal district and most of them were converted to relief camps to accommodate locals from hamlets near Vedaranyam.
Villagers said they have been asked by revenue officials to vacate education institutes serving as relief camps so that schools can resume functioning.
However, the district administration said that only people volunteering to move out are vacating the camps. Collector C Suresh Kumar said that schools serving as relief centres were told not to be disturbed for resuming classes.
“We are ready to operate the relief camps and provide food to the affected people. Only those who voluntarily wish to reside in their refurbished houses are leaving the relief camps,” the collector told . He also added that officials in Kathiripulam and Chettipulam will enquire about the situation.
Officials sources said that around 1 lakh houses including thatched huts and tiled houses were damaged in four taluks – Nagapattinam, Vedaranyam, Thirukkuvalai and Kizhvelur. Around two lakh people have been accommodated in 277 cyclone relief shelters in the four taluks.
Villagers on Monday claimed that they were asked to vacate the relief camps in parts of Vedaranyam taluk. “People accommodated in schools in Chettipulam and Panchanathikulam near Vedaranyam were asked to vacate the schools, where they were staying for more than two weeks now. We don’t mind schools functioning but we should be permitted to sleep in the shelters at night,” said K Birla Thangadurai, member of district committee for SC/ST welfare.
Situated a few kilometres away from Chettipulam, the situation is no different in Kariyapattinam and Kathiripulam relief centres. “Though we were asked to leave, our house is comparatively safer to stay after the reinforcements. But several families that have lost their huts completely have no place to go,” said T Vedhaiyan, a resident of Kathiripulam.