HC seeks TN govt report on amenities, welfare schemes in Kalvarayan hills in wake of hooch deaths

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Chennai, July 10 (PTI) In the wake of the recent hooch tragedy that claimed the lives of 66 persons, the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to submit a report on implementation of welfare schemes in the Kalvarayan hills of Kallakurichi district and sought to know whether people have access to basic amenities there.

Following reports of the brewing of illicit liquor in and around the hilly region, a division bench comprising Justices S M Subramaniam and C Kumarappan gave the directive while passing further interim orders on suo motu proceedings initiated by it over the matter.

The bench said, "We came across multiple media reports and documentaries about the lack of basic infrastructural facilities in that region. It is to be made clear by the Government, (i) whether the government welfare schemes are made available to the people of that locality? (ii) whether they have access to all basic facilities? (iii) People of these regions, mostly belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.

"Hence, the Government has to explain, what all are the efforts made, specifically for promotion and welfare of these people?" The court had earlier referred to reports that due to economic backwardness and unemployment in the region, people were forced to resort to brewing illicit liquor.

The court had also cited an interview by senior counsel K R Tamilmani, who had referred to the Malayalee tribal community in the Kalvarayan hills of Kallakurichi district, and said that emperor Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagara empire had gifted 100s of villages to the ancestors of "three Malayalee Jagirdhars".

These three jagirdhars "refused" to join Indian territory till June 25, 1976 and only during the Emergency were the forced by the Tamil Nadu government to handover to the state the areas occupied by them.

The bench said that when the Election Commission goes even to the remotest region of the country to ensure that everyone exercises their franchise, correspondingly the state has to ensure that the facilities and welfare schemes have reached these people. It is the constitutional duty and mandate of the state, it said.

"Therefore, we deem it appropriate to consider these issues on receipt of a comprehensive report from the state," the bench added.

The high court said all interested persons, including media-persons, are at liberty to submit their reports or inputs in connection with the present writ petition, enabling the court to address issues to ensure social and economic development in the area in a speedy manner.

The bench posted further hearing of the case to July 24. PTI CORR VGN ANE