Report from India
- Friends: Goldy sent me the following report provided by one of his
friends. It helps us understand more the affects of the tsunami on
the lives of people in India.
I hope you are aware of the Tsunami attack in Asia which killed
thousands of people and left millions homeless. In India the regions
of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry are the worst affected regions. In this
region alone nearly 5000 people have died and about six hundred
thousands of fishermen are rendered homeless.
Unexpectedly on the morning of 26th December myself and Victor, three
other lawyers from the Dalit communities were proceeding to Cuddalore
to attend a Legal Aid Camp organized by the Dalit Land Rights
Federation. While we were proceeding we noticed hundreds of women and
children alighting from trucks weeping and crying. We stopped and
enquired about them. We came to know from them that they are
fisherfolk from the coastal villages of Cuddalore district who have
narrowly escaped the wrath of the sea. Having heard their narration
of this sorrowful event, we proceeded to Cuddalore Town. By the time
we reached Cuddalore we saw number of human bodies being carried in
to the Cuddalore General hospital. It was two hours after the
incident and by this time the number of the dead in Cuddalore
district alone was 400. We were helpless and proceeded to the
villages-with the help of some of our friends living near Cuddalore
we have decided to do some relief. By this time news of devastating
Tsunami poured in from Pondicherry and other parts of Tamil nadu. We
contacted all our friends living near the coast of Tamil nadu and
alerted them to do some immediate relief work. We visited affected
villages in Cuddalore district and Pondicherry region and four
villages in Villupuram Taluk.
The next day we started to do some relief measures. At the same time
we deeply studied the whole situation and decided to intervene with a
long term perspective. As we were in the coastal villages I could not
send you mail.
These are some of our observations which we could get during our
First time in the recent history, the fisherfolk have experienced the
Tsunami attack. Thousands have died and thousands were left homeless-
the attack was so sévère that some villages have been completely
The Government's figures about the loss of lives and properties are
All the fisherfolk have lost their sources of livelihood like the
Kattumaram, fishing nets, boats and fish processing sheds.
The fisherfolk who had always loved "mother sea" are terribly afraid
of the sea. They are all undergoing a trauma.
The relief camps are utterly under sub-human conditions without
proper shelter, drinking water and other sanitation facilities. The
relief camps are also totally disorganized.
In the name of relief measures, perishable goods like cooked rice
packets are flooding from all the corners which are wasted.
We spoke with many number of fisherfolk in their relief camps who are
still under the grip of the Sunday tragedy.
Presently Action Aid India with many number ofInternational NGOs has
formed a PLATFORM to interne effectively in the rehabilitation
With the members of this Platform we spent two days fully with the
fisher folk in the different relief camps and had preliminary
discussions about the rehabilitation issue. At the end of these
discussions we had a long meeting among ourselves and decided to
intervene in the rehabilitation work which should start from the
communities themselves. In this rehabilitation process Dalit Land
Rights Federation would also play a major role. We are all meeting in
Chennai on 1st January 2005 to finalise the approaches and strategies
In any way if you feel that you can also be part of this process of
rehabilitation you are most welcome.